16,300 SCHOOLGIRLS FALL  PREGNANT EACH YEAR?

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 10:27:04 +0000

 

By Mary Kachepa

THE fact that over 16,300 schoolgirls fall pregnant each year is a clear message that adolescent girls and their sexual partners remain a priority population in preventing new HIV infections in Zambia, says the Forum for African Educationalists of Zambia (FAWEZA).

FAWEZA executive director Agnes Mumba said that HIV testing in schools will offer an entry point for prevention messaging for young people to maintain their HIV negative status.

“Schools should be targeted as HIV entry points for prevention campaigns because the majority of young people who can be found in schools are likely to be HIV negative,” she said.

Ms Mumba explained that there was now global acknowledgement that the turn- around strategy for HIV and AIDS rested in preventing new infections.

“The Educational Statistical Bulleting has clearly pointed out to children in primary (Grade 5-7) and secondary schools (Grades 8-9) as constituting over 80 percent of unintended adolescent pregnancies in Zambia, clearly indicating that our adolescents are indulging in unprotected sexual activities, hence putting themselves at a greater risk of HIV infections in Zambia,” she said.

Ms Mumba said that FAWEZA was particularly concerned because HIV continued to carry a female face with the higher prevalence among females at 16.1 percent compared to males which stands at 12.3 percent.

‘‘This difference between female and male prevalence rates is very significant between the ages of 5-19 at 3.6 percent in males and 5.7 percent in females.

“An AIDS strategy in Zambia can only be averted by preventing new HIV infections by inducing behavioral change, increasing knowledge levels among adolescents and young people,” she added.

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