The rising prevalence of HIV among adolescent girls in Uganda has become a cause for concern for the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA). The organization has emphasized that if immediate action is not taken, the situation could spiral out of control for the entire country.
UNFPA highlights several factors contributing to this issue, including early sexual activity leading to HIV exposure, teenage pregnancies, gender-based violence, and poverty, ultimately hindering these young girls from realizing their full potential.
The organization points out that societal gender inequalities and entrenched patriarchal norms have made it challenging for these girls to negotiate safe sex, especially considering their reproductive systems are not yet fully developed.
Laura Criado, the co-ordinator of gender and youth programs at UNFPA, stressed the alarming statistics, revealing that the number of HIV infections among adolescent girls surpasses that of both men and women over the age of 25 combined.
Moreover, the success of Uganda’s national HIV treatment program has led to a growing number of adolescents living with HIV, thereby exacerbating the overall burden of HIV and AIDS, along with the heightened risk of co-infections such as tuberculosis.
In response, Criado emphasized the urgent need for improved access to screening and ongoing treatment for adolescent mothers living with HIV. UNFPA calls for comprehensive support to empower these young mothers to live positively with the disease and prevent its transmission to others, emphasizing the crucial role of holistic interventions in combating the spread of HIV and AIDS in Uganda.