MOMBASA, Kenya, Aug 15 – The National Aids Control Council on Wednesday raised concerns over the increasing number of young people and children in Kenya who are HIV positive.
NACC Director Dr Nduku Kilonzo told primary school heads meeting in Mombasa for the 14th Kenya Primary Schools Heads Association that there are about 300,000 young people aged below 24 years are living with HIV/Aids in Kenya.
She said about 184, 000 are those aged between 10-24 years and another 100,000 are children below 14 years.
She said there are 48 new infections every day among young people aged between 10-24 years.
“Last year, Kenya recorded 18,000 HIV new infections among people in the adolescent age bracket,” she said.
Kilonzo attributed this new trend to lack of information on HIV/Aids, sexual violence on young people, coercion by peers and high levels of stigma by society to those already affected.
According to NACC data, about 20 per cent of the Kenyan young people get into sexual activities before their 15th birthday, due to coercion from peers.
“One out of five, which is about 20 per cent of young people get into sex before they reach 15 years,” she said.
At the same time, Kilonzo said majority of Kenyan youth get information about sex on Internet, which most of the times is misleading to the younger generation.
“As parents and teachers, we are losing the back to the Internet. What young people are taught by internet is very misleading,” said Kilonzo.
Many young people aged between 15-19 years also do not know about their HIV/Aids status.
“About 46 per cent of young women aged between 15-19 have never tested for HIV and 58 per cent of young men within the same age bracket have also never gone for HIV testing,” she said.
Kilonzo called on the teachers and parents to work together with the National Aids Control Council and other HIV/Aids support groups to teach the younger generation about HIV/Aids.
She said Kenya is currently fourth in the world, among the countries with the highest HIV burden after South Africa, Nigeria and India.