Young women most vulnerable to HIV

03 October 2018 | Health

The US Ambassador to Namibia, Lisa Johnson, says adolescent girls and young women are most vulnerable to HIV transmission as they end up getting infected directly or indirectly by older men who have the virus.

Johnson says the vicious cycle of HIV, which starts with older men infecting young women and adolescent girls and later multiplies, is a serious concern that needs to be dealt with.

“If the older man is HIV positive, he may infect the young woman with HIV. When this woman then has a relationship with a young man of her own age, she may end up infecting him too.

“If he doesn't get tested and treated, he in turn passes the virus to the other young women with whom he has relationships,” Johnson said at the official opening of a youth-friendly clinic at Omuthiya in the Oshikoto Region last week.

She explained that youth-friendly clinics seek to reduce new infections among adolescent girls and young women by empowering them with social protection and safe spaces, education and economic skills, and access to safe family-planning and reproductive health services.

The clinic falls under the DREAMS project which is funded by the US government under the Presidency's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (Pepfar).

“This clinic does not only provide information but also confidential family-planning services, pregnancy tests, PAP smears, screening for breast cancer and cervical cancer, testing for STIs and HIV, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and voluntary medical male circumcision services,” Johnson said.

She said since the clinic opened in March, about 1 000 adolescent girls and young women have been tested for HIV while 150 have received family-planning services and more than 30 have enrolled for PrEP.

KENYA KAMBOWE

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