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 10-24
WHO 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 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.

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Snippets from the session co- hosted by UNESCO, UNAIDS, Unfpa Esaro and the Government of Cote D' Ivoire on the sidelines of the ongoing 2017 International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infection in Africa (ICASA).

The session was moderated by the UNAIDS Director Regional Support Team for Eastern and Southern Africa (RTESA) Dr Catherine Sozi and graced by Honourable Kandia Camara – Cote d’Ivoire Minister of National Education & Technical Education, Honourable Mokhele Moletsane – Lesotho Minister of Education & Training, Honourable Michael Lopuke Lotyam – South Sudan Undersecretary of General Education and Instruction and Ms Lorence Kabasele – President of Afriyan Eastern and Southern African Region - Afriyan ESA

Dr. Catherine Sozi, “We are all ambassadors of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) as it is not against any culture or religion but builds support to the cultural and religious pillars of society”

Mr. Michael Lopuke Lotyam, “When a country is preparing for war, it does not buy ammunition during the war but well before the war breaks out. In the same vein, CSE serves to empower young people and adolescents to face head on their sexuality and changes in them that may lead to risky behaviour if not properly harnessed.”

Ms Lorence Kabasele, “Let us leave no one behind in the journey. This calls for measures to be put in place that brings CSE to the illiterate out of school adolescent and parent who do not understand English, French or Portuguese. Let us have the guidance translated into the local languages too.”
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