Thousands of youths live with HIV in Mombasa due to drugs

Mombasa health executive nominee Hazel Koitaba during her vetting on October 3, 2017. /ERNEST CORNEL
Mombasa health executive nominee Hazel Koitaba during her vetting on October 3, 2017. /ERNEST CORNEL

At least 3,000 children, some as young as 10 years old, are living with HIV in Mombasa. Most of the infections are linked to drug abuse using injections. Mombasa county Health department says 41,000 residents live with the virus.

Health executive Hazel Koitaba said it is unfortunate children are sexually active.

She spoke at the launch of a programme on young people, HIV and reproductive health at Tononoka grounds on Thursday.

“A lot of our youths or young adults are actually sexually active when they shouldn’t be and thatis a contributing factor because most of these young adults do not understand the issues of sexually transmitted diseases,” she said.

The county programme aims to bring together youth groups and relevant NGOs to address the high rate of HIV prevalence .

“We will discuss this issue and see how we can stop the spread of HIV and ensure that even those living with HIV are able to live positively and continue to improve their lives,” Koitaba said.

Reach Out Centre, an NGO dealing with drugs and substance abuse among the youths, says 18 per cent of young people living with HIV are or were drug users.Due to the large number of youths living with HIV, the county’s Youth department has set aside Sh15 million to be given to groups to start businesses.

“We are here to ensure we engage the youth so that they can take care of themselves and understand the implications of HIV,” Youth, Gender and Sports CEC Munyoki Kyalo said.

The Youth department will train young people on how to use the funds. “We want to ensure that there are enough safe spaces for the youth to engage in innovation, in creative art and in business,” Kyalo said.

He said me who make girls pregnant should face the law as underage sex is a form of exploitation of children.

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