Married Kenyan Youth Excluded From HIV/AIDS Programs, at Higher Risk of Contracting Virus

Married youths are not taken into consideration in HIV/AIDS awareness programs aimed at young people in Kenya and are at an increased risk of contracting the virus, South Africa's Independent Online reports. Married adolescent girls can be more susceptible to HIV transmission because they have more unprotected sex, the Independent Online reports. According to a 2004 study by the Population Council, 57% of married girls in southern and eastern Africa had unprotected sex, compared with 5% of unmarried sexually active girls. Excluding married youths from HIV/AIDS programs is a "dangerous practice" in Kenya because most communities are polygamous, the Independent Online reports. According to a 2005 UNICEF survey, roughly 16% of Kenyan girls married between ages 15 and 19 were in polygamous marriages. Married adolescent girls are not knowledgeable about reproductive health, and health care providers might not be sensitive to their needs, according to Independent Online. Some organizations have begun to tackle the issue of HIV/AIDS programs for married youths. In Rachunyo district, located in western Kenya, a group of nongovernmental organizations is seeking to help girls establish clubs so they can connect with their peers. The organizations also are pushing for voluntary HIV counseling and testing for newlyweds and engaged couples (Independent Online, 7/28).

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