More than 300,000 young people aged between 0-24 years are living with HIV/Aids in Kenya, the National Aids Control Council has said.
From this figure, 184,718 are aged between 10-24 and 100,000 are children between 0-14 years.
The council’s director Dr Nduku Kilonzo on Wednesday said there are 48 new infections every day.
In 2017, Kenya recorded 18,000 new infections among people in the adolescent age.
“By the end of this day, we shall have 48 young people who would have been infected with HIV. This is worrying,” she said.
Speaking at the 14th Kenya Primary Heads Association annual conference in Mombasa, Kilonzo attributed this new trend to lack of information on HIV/Aids, sexual molestation and violence, coercion by peers and stigma to those already affected.
On coercion from peers, she said, about 20 per cent of young people get into sexual activities before their 15th birthday.
“One out of five, which is about 20 per cent of young people get into sex before they reach 15 years,” she said.
She said a majority of Kenyan youth get information about sex on the internet and from peers.
“As parents and teachers, we are losing the war to the internet. What young people are taught by the internet is very misleading,” said Kilonzo.
Kilonzo added that majority of the youth aged between 15-19 years do not know their HIV 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 stigma is very high in learning institutions.
“Infected young people are afraid of taking their drugs in the open due to stigma from fellow students and teachers,” said Kilonzo.
She said there is a need for teachers to work together with the National Aids Control Council and other HIV/Aids support groups to teach the younger generation about the HIV/Aids pandemic.
Kenya is ranked fourth in the world among the countries with the largest HIV burden after South Africa, Nigeria and India. -Star