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Proper use of condoms recommended amid surge in HIV infections among the youth

As the world marks the International Condoms Day, experts are calling for correct and consistent use of condoms among the Adolescents and Young People (AYPs).
Health officers in Laikipia County mark International Condoms Day/Laikipia Health Service

The holiday is being marked against a backdrop of an increase in HIV transmissions among the young people compared to other age brackets.

The youth reportedly fear pregnancy more than contracting HIV virus. Dr SM Musyoki, a Medical Doctor says this should not be the case. This is because HIV lurks around and it has far reaching complications to the patient including heavy drug burden unlike pregnancy.

A spot check by MWINGI TIMES in a local hospital showed that stigma around HIV/AIDS care was rife. Similar observations were made in neighboring villages.

Some of the contributing factors to this menace, we were told, is cases where young women had sexual relationships with elderly men.

A young man who was aware of such case in his area avoided a teen mother who he said he was aware was battling AIDS.
"She called me and I walked away", he said while claiming that the young mother was trolling him to get funds for herself and the baby.

Dr Musyoki concurs that the "mubaba phenomenon" has dealt a blow in the fight against the scourge.

"I have counselled young poor girls in relationships with rich old men. I have counselled several young women who have been infected in such scenarios. It's a sad state of affairs" she says. She advises young girls to fear HIV more than pregnancy.

A 2022 report by the National Syndemic Disease Control Council revealed that 52 per cent of Kenya's 29380 new HIV infections were among adolescents and young adults aged between 15 and 29 years.

The report further said majority of the above cases are girls and young women. It cited teenage pregnancies, sexual and gender based violence and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as contributing factors to the rise in new infections among the youth.

Poverty has been a major contributing factor in high HIV prevalence in the Nyanza region. "Poverty does not allow women to negotiate for safe sex" , says Mr Richard Syengo, a senior Prevention expert.

Richard Syengo said he toured several high HIV burden counties in the Nyanza region along Lake Victoria beach line. 

He was taken aback by the tough life women endure as they look for food for their families from the fisher folks. He added some women ended up having unsafe sex with the fisher folks in exchange of fish to get a meal for their immediate families.


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