National Aids Control Council (NACC) has decried rampant unprotected sex among teenagers leading to early pregnancies and exposure to HIV/AIDS in Narok county.
The council’s Chairperson Angeline Siparo raised concerns over the high number of positive cases being reported in the county despite extensive sensitization messages on HIV/AIDS.
About 17,580 people are living with HIV/AIDS with women leading in new infections compared to men, added Siparo.
“Many young people are still engaging in unprotected sex derailing the fight against the disease. The trend is worrying,” she said.
The NACC chair spoke in Narok when she visited various primary schools within the town to distribute sanitary towels and educate the children on need to say ‘No’ to sex.
Among the schools she visited included Lenana primary, Masikonde primary, St Peter’s primary school and Ilmasharini primary school.
“High rate of teenage pregnancies especially in counties like Narok indicates that children are sexually active and engaging in raw sex. This is an impending crisis that calls for immediate intervention if we are to win the war against HIV/AIDS in the country,” she reiterated.
The NACC official who was accompanied by Narok governor’s wife, Sarah Tunai and Narok county commissioner Evans Achoki revealed that Kenya might revert back to the 1999 situation with very high infection rates.
“Mother-child infections remain high in counties like Narok where many girls prefer giving birth at home. According to statistics, Narok leads in mother-child infections with 11.2 percent, way over the national prevalence of seven percent,” said Mrs.Tunai.
She explained that a country’s realization of the zero-tolerance against the disease is gauged by reduction of the mother-child infections saying if more children are born with the disease then the fight is lost.
Narok County was ranked position four in the leading counties in teenage pregnancies by the Kenya Demographic Health Survey 2021; this is an improvement as the county had been ranked top in teenage pregnancies five years ago.
However, Ms. Siparo said there is nothing to celebrate about as in the year 2020, when schools were closed because of the emergence of Covid-19 pandemic, over 15, 000 teenage girls in the county fell pregnant.
Ms. Tunai attributed the high rate of teenage pregnancies to poverty saying men take advantage of the poor girls to buy them basic commodities like sanitary towels, where they in turn impregnate them.
“Majority of teenage girls are from humble backgrounds and most of the time their parents fail to provide them with basic needs such as sanitary pads. This exposes them to sex predators who offer them as low as Sh,20 to buy sanitary towels in exchange for sex,” said the governor’s spouse.
She raised a red flag on the future of the local girls due to the high dropout rate caused by early pregnancies and called on authorities to ensure that the young mothers are traced and returned back to school to continue with their education.
On his part, the county Commissioner reiterated that the security administrators will work with education officials to ensure that the student mothers get back to class.
However, Achoki linked teenage pregnancies and early marriages to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which he said makes girls believe the rite makes them adult women who had the freedom to engage in sexual activity.