Children: We are not ready for sex
HEALTH & SCIENCEBy GATONYE GATHURA | Mon,Feb 23 2015 00:00:00 EATBy GATONYE GATHURA | Mon,Feb 23 2015 00:00:00 EAT
An overwhelming majority of 10-14 year-olds are not into sex and hope to wait until they get married, according to a Ministry of Health report.
The current Kenya Aids Indicator Survey, on whose data the ‘All In’ campaign launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta last week is mainly based, does not indicate a sex epidemic breakout among this age group.
The national survey investigated the sex behaviour of children aged 12-14 and reports that nine out of 10 children interviewed had never had sex, with three per cent saying they did not know what sex was.
However, the ‘All In’ campaign, which is led by the United Nations, targets among others 10-19-year-olds with sex education and HIV prevention products such as condoms, lubricants, microbicides and pre-exposure prevention pills. The UN says new HIV infections and deaths are highest among this age group.
But the current Kenya Aids Indicator Survey says in 2012, the year the latest data was collected, an estimated 106,000 persons aged 15-64 had acquired HIV in the past year.
“The highest number of these new infections occurred among persons aged 25-34, with the HIV incidence remaining stable in the past five years,” says the report.
Worrying, however, is that among the small group in the 12-14 age group who are sexually active, seven out of 10 have never used a condom. But most knew they could get a condom from shops, supermarkets or kiosks.
In an indication that condoms may not be the only way to go, the majority of both boys and girls, two-thirds, said they were willing to abstain from sex until they got married. Among those who had had sex, about 80 per cent had only one partner
Parents, especially those who have higher education, do not mind teachers teaching their children about condoms. But only about a third of parents have ever discussed HIV with their 10-14-year-olds, with much of the information the children have on the topic having come from their teachers.
“But more than 80 per cent of the information is incorrect,” says the survey, which was largely funded by Americans.
Ediha Kairo, a parent with two daughters aged 12 and 15 in school, says sex education is one thing but no teacher has any business giving her children condoms, lubricants or microbicides.
This raises legal hurdles for teachers since the controversial Reproductive Health Bill introduced last year that would have anchored the provision of contraceptives for school children in law is still pending in the Senate.