• Preventing new infections among future generations will depend on the mechanisms we put in place to reduce vulnerability of the current adolescents to HIV.
• Whatever the causes, we must remove these stones to eliminate the mountain.
Whereas Aids-related deaths have reduced by half in children since 2010,reduction of new infections among adolescents have only fallen by five per cent, raising questions on what the future holds for this age bracket. Notably, it comprises the largest population in Africa.
HIV affects different categories of young people, among them young men and women who engage in same sex relationships, drug users, transgender people and sex workers. Several factors make young people the most vulnerable group to HIV.
Discrimination experienced by young people when approaching health facilities and stigma related to sexual orientation where these people live and where they seek services as well as the desire to engage in sexual relationship are to blame for the rising cases of adolescent HIV.
Between 2005-16, the number of adolescents living with HIV increased by 30 per cent. It is estimated that the number of 10 to 24-year-old Africans will rise to 750 million by 2060.
Preventing new infections among future generations will depend on the mechanisms we put in place to reduce vulnerability of the current adolescents to HIV. Is it poverty, is it cultural practices, gender stereotypes of harmful use of drugs and alcohol of even HIV-related stigma. Whatever the causes, we must remove these stones to eliminate the mountain. Protecting future generations from HIV, must begin with protecting the current adolescents and young people.
Daniel Otieno, Network for Adolescent and Youth of Africa, NAYA Kenya