Enhance awareness to curb HIV infections among teenagers

World AIDS Day is a day to unite to help end HIV and remember those lost to AIDS-related illnesses. [iStockphoto]

The high prevalence of HIV/Aids infections among teenagers aged between 15 and 24 in the country is worrying and requires urgent interventions from relevant government and private sector agencies.

As the world marked HIV/Aids on December 1, statistics from the Ministry of Health revealed that infections among teenage boys and girls are steadily rising.

The high rate of infections among teenagers can be attributed to inadequate awareness, lack of parental guidance and counseling, poverty as well as ignorance.

To curb the spread of the deadly virus among teenagers as well as other groups of people, the government should enhance awareness campaigns through community group sensitisation and training.

The awareness campaigns should target learning institutions, especially primary schools where teenagers should be taught and sensitised on matters sex education.

It is further worrying that minors are exposed to sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Two weeks ago, media reports alleged that 12,000 students in Kirinyaga County had tested positive for sexually transmitted infections.

This adds to the gloomy statistics that teenagers across the country could be sexually active and are exposed to HIV infections.

With the worrying statistics, it is now time for parents and society at large to aggressively sensitise teenagers about sex education and provide the required advisory as well as frequent counseling.

Religious leaders and peer community groups should also take the lead in creating awareness on HIV/Aids and use their positions to persuade young people to stop vices such as drug abuse, among others, that easily fuel infections.

Additionally, the government and relevant stakeholders should heighten behavioural change programmes and provide the much-needed information on sex education.

With schools closed for the long holiday, teenagers are likely to engage in sex activities, exposing themselves to more HIV infections and other opportunistic diseases.

It is should be our collective responsibility to ensure that teenagers are not engaged in vices that contribute to infections.

The government should further enhance testing and screening targeting teenagers and provide the much-needed support for those who are already exposed to the deadly virus.

In addressing the high HIV prevalence, the State should also ensure that the affected teenagers are not stigmatised and they have adequate access to Anti-Retroviral drugs to ensure that their education is not interrupted.

Moreover, the government should invest in adequate primary healthcare to effectively fight the HIV/Aids pandemic that remains a threat to socio-economic development.

 -Mr Ramoka is a communications specialist