This is despite positive signs that hiv incidence is declining overally among young people.
THE HIGH NUMBERS OF NEW INFECTIONS AMONG YOUNG PEOPLE REMAINS A SERIOUS CONCERN.
HIV-related stigma and discrimination, including attitudes based on laws and policies, continue to impede responses to the epidemic and very often prevent young people from accessing sexual and reproductive health services.
At the same time, young people in the region are demanding access to comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) and health services.
ALTHOUGH THE EDUCATION SECTOR CAN PLAY A KEY ROLE IN IMPROVING YOUNG PEOPLE'S SEXUAL REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH, THIS ALONE CANNOT MEET ALL THE NEEDS OF YOUNG PEOPLE.
HEALTH + EDUCATION
The health sector also needs to be part of the discussion to ensure that the education being taught in schools is complemented and consistent with the services being provided in the region.
While the mandates of Health and Education sector are clearly different, the linkages between the two are critical for ensuring a holistic approach to influence and enable young people’s sexual reproductive health and rights.
CONSOLIDATE RECENT AND HARD-WON GAINS IN THE REDUCTION OF HIV PREVALENCE IN ESA, AND PUSH TOWARDS ELIMINATING ALL NEW HIV INFECTIONS AMONG ADOLESCENTS AND YOUNG PEOPLE AGED 10-24
Although new HIV infections are on the decline across the region, these reductions remain insufficient. Significant numbers of young people, predominantly adolescent girls and young women, are still becoming newly infected. UNAIDS notes that adolescent girls and young women are a key population in danger of being left out in the AIDS response. While trends in the region are showing encouraging declines in risk behaviours the reality is that young women and girls continue to face difficulties in navigating these risks due to power imbalances in relationships.
INCREASE TO 95% THE NUMBER OF ADOLESCENTS AND YOUNG PEOPLE AGED 10-24WHO DEMONSTRATE COMPREHENSIVE HIV PREVENTION KNOWLEDGE LEVELS
While there have been modest improvements in young people’s HIV related knowledge globally, improvements in knowledge levels are apparent in Eastern and Southern Africa. By 2014, more young people in the region were knowledgeable about HIV than a decade ago. However, the majority of young people still lack of knowledge about HIV transmission and young women are less likely than young men to have accurate and comprehensive knowledge about HIV transmission.
REDUCE EARLY AND UNINTENDED PREGNANCIES AMONG YOUNG PEOPLE BY 75%
Early and unintended pregnancy rates among adolescent girls aged 15-19 remain high across the region, ranging from 39% in Tanzania to 59% in Kenya. This is largely as a result of a lack of access to contraception due to factors such as cultural and religious opposition, poor quality of available services, gender-based barriers, and spousal disapproval. Pregnancy almost always means an end to education for most girls; with at least 95% of ever pregnant girls being out of school across four study countries.
ELIMINATE GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE AND CHILD MARRIAGE
Gender-based violence remains high across all countries. Sexual violence puts girls at higher risk of HIV infection and has knock-on effects on educational and health outcomes for women and children. In Southern African countries, where one in every three girls has been forced to have sex by the age of 18 years a very large proportion of the population have limited agency in making choices regarding their sexual health. Young people experience violence and harassment in, around, and on the way to school.
ELIMINATE CHILD MARRIAGE
The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) prohibits the marriage of any child under the age of 18 years. However, in the majority of countries in the ESA region, traditional or customary law continues to support early marriage and more than one third of women aged 20-24 years (6.5 million) have been married or in a union before the age of 18. Child marriage is associated with higher rates of teenage pregnancy and higher fertility, resulting in girls having to care for many children while they are still young. The African Union has launched a Continental Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa. Regional efforts to end child marriage include a model law on child marriage developed by SADC for countries to adopt across the Southern African sub-region.
BRINGING EDUCATION AND HEALTH TOGETHER AMONG 21 COUNTRIES.
In late 2011, under the leadership of UNAIDS and with the support of the Regional Economic Communities (EAC and SADC) and Civil Society partners, the UN initiated a process that aimed to develop and implement a commitment to the health needs and rights of young people.
By the year of 2015 a good quality CSE curriculum framework is in place and being implemented in each of the 20 countries.
Pre- and in-service SRH and CSE training for teachers, health, and social workers is in place and being implemented in all 20 countries.
By the end of 2015, decrease by 50% the number of adolescents and young people who do not have access to equitable, accessible, acceptable, appropriate and effective youth-friendly SRH services, including HIV.
This week, from 12 to 15 September 2017 delegates will be hosted for a regional workshop on measuring the delivery of comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA). The workshop will take place in the resort town of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
Attending the four day workshop will be education policy-makers, Education Management Information System (EMIS) officers, UNESCO National Programme Officers, Sexuality, Health and HIV focal persons from 17 countries in the ESA region.
The media remains central in informing, educating and entertaining communities.
UNESCO and Smile Again Africa Development Organization (SAADO) In South Sudan are co-sponsoring a radio talk show on Comprehensive Sexuality Education titled Wanasa Dukuri aired every Wednesdays from 12-1 p.m. on Eye Radio station.