UNICEF attributes increased HIV cases in teenage girls to unsafe early sex

Iganga, (UG):- The representative of United Nations Children’s Fund, formerly United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in Uganda Mr. Munir A. Safieldin has cautioned teenage girls to avoid engaging in early sex as it risks destroying their future since it comes with a number of negative consequences.

He says that HIV/ AIDS cases have hiked in girls as a result of involvement in early sex and he noted the cases among girls between the age of 15 and 19. He also said it is seriously destroying the well-being of many girls as they face teenage pregnancies especially while still in school.

Safieldin was on Sunday speaking to students of Iganga secondary school in Iganga district as they were celebrating zero pregnancies in the school after massive pregnancy testing. He also says two of the three cases of HIV/ AIDS cases reported are among teenage girls resulting from unsafe sex.

“The HIV/ AIDS cases which are currently reported are mainly among teenage girls, so if you pick up any 3 new cases of HIV/ AIDS you will find that 2 of these 3 cases are teenage girls. This is quite serious because it destroys the health well-being of these girls,” Safieldin said.

“Also we have seen that teenage pregnancy among girls of age between 15 and 19 is quite high and others are impregnated before reaching the age of 15. Many girls may not continue with education and life becomes very difficult for them and that is why UNICEF is one of the organizations working very closely with a number of government ministries to address this issue in Uganda,” he added.

Iganga SS Headteacher, Ms Nakaziba Monica (L) and Mr. Munir A. Safieldin is the UNICEF Representative to Uganda (R)

In his address, he also outlined other negative consequences of teenage pregnancy which include dropping out of school, getting HIV/ AIDS and struggling to care for children. He says maternal mortality rate can be reduced in Uganda if teenage pregnancy cases are reduced or brought to zero as well as reducing neonatal mortality in the country.

The Headteacher of the school Ms Nakaziba Monica Kayiira told Daily Express that in previous years, they could register around 2 to 3 cases of pregnancies but they have always engaged the girls on the negative consequences of teenage pregnancies which has helped the school to register zero pregnancies this year.

“We have celebrated the zero pregnancy after medically checking our girls when they were all safe since the year began, so we felt so happy and the school board of governors proposed to celebrate as a way of motivating our girls,” Ms. Nakaziba said, thanking the church led by Bishop Patrick Wakula of Central Busoga Diocese for the spiritual support.

She also commended the parents for the great work of counselling the students during the holidays, especially the longest ones. “I want to thank the parents for doing great work because every end of term we send these girls to them but they come back safe, meaning that they are also playing a very vital role of counselling our girls,” Ms Nakaziba said.

A section of students at Iganga Secondary School who attended the meeting

Dr. Brenda Wakana from Jinja Regional Referral Hospital said most girls being impregnated at teenage age are not empowered with information about what goes on with their bodies and they easily fall prey to sex predators and end up seeking abortions if not counselled.

“We realized that most of the girls coming pregnant to hospitals have not been empowered with information about what is going on with their bodies and the people who approach them asking for sex while offering things like chapati take advantage of that,” she said.

Dr. Wakana rallied all schools and various stakeholders to strengthen the fight against teenage pregnancies by empowering the girls from primary schools with the necessary information and also getting to know about their challenges to address them.

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