Child marriage and HIV/AIDS impact on young people

 For quit a long time ,efforts to fight against child marriages have been put in place ,laws have been enacted ,Acts were drafted ,but having done all that ,the world need to come up  with a global  minimum age for  marriage which will act  as an important tool  to help those working to dissuade families and communities from marrying off their daughters at early stages .

this not only help  children to have education opportunities  and  prevent them from sexual exploitation ,but is an important  measure in the fight against HIV/AIDS .

firstly i will look  at the The Probition of Child   Marriage Act (2006),in this act ,UNICEF defines child marriage as marriage before the age of eighteen and the practice is considered  as a violation of human rights .

however with differences in terms of ages of consent amongst  societies ,  it is still a leading factor in  bottlenecking the  total eradication of child marriages .some societies  considers 18 years as the minimum age of marriage ,while  muslims  agree that children under the age of 16 can marry with the permission of Sharia authorities ,according to custom  mainly african ,the minimum age is 15  and yet the Protection of the Rights of the Child discourages marriage before the age of 16. These differences are a clear indicator that there is no consensus from the international world on the  minimum age of  marriage  .

The  Declaration of  the Rights of the Child of 1959 pledges that ” mankind  owes  to the child the best it has to give ”this entails special protection as well as  education opportunities and  facilities .

It then becomes a problematic issue when girls as young as 13-15 are  forced into marriage  losing their education opportunities  and are being exploited sexually  by older men .

This also puts their health at risk as they  cannot negotiate for safer sex  due to their compromising state .HIV/AIDS  prevalence rate is  also considered to be high at the  10-15 followed by 15-24 age  group  and a lot of interventions are being put in place to make sure no one is left behind in the UNAIDS strategy of eradicating AIDS by 2030,but if  societies continue to force their   young girls  into marriage  even eradicating AIDS  will be a  cumbersome task.

There is a low awareness of  Comphrehensive Sex Education among young girls  hence they are also prone to the sexually transmitted infections among them HIV .

the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) makes it an offense to involve children in an activity which impacts negatively on their health  and well being .thus by marrying them early its a clear violation of their rights according to this convention .

It also empasizes the need for the government to protect children from exploitation,thus there is really a dire need for extensive efforts and practical measures by our governments to curb child marriages .

As countries continue to strengthen their  commitment to fight HIV/AIDS epidemic ,i also  think that  the vulnerablity of young women and girls should not only be  explained  in biological  factors ,but  look at the gender iniqualities  that exist  in our societies   which  are acting as the driving force behing child marriage and making it difficult to eradicate HIV.

biological factors be taken into consideration ,it is noted that early child marriage will disrupt the normal sexual life of these young girls as their  genital tracts are immature  and more prone to invasion by HIV  and socially, norms that are rigid even restrict women  from  accessing  medication which further  detriments the lives of these young girls .

Why youths should be ambassadors in their countries to end HIV?

If the youths are well equipped to stop AIDS, ending it by 2030 may become a reality.

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The AIDS  epidemic has created history, for decades  Africa’s economic growth has not accelerated, many educated citizens have fallen prey to AIDS leaving a lot of orphans  vulnerable and crying out loud for help which never came in most cases.

Many of these orphans whose parents died of AIDS  never got to live normal lives, they have suffered stigma and discrimination, attracted unnecessary comments that  clearly showed they will always be reffered to as social outcasts.

This is the generation that has grown up with AIDS, so it is the duty of young people to eradicate it .Giving young people a chance to live a better life begins by giving them a chance to lead change as ambassadors.

Eradicating AIDS by 2030 is a very ambitious target that acquires everyone to be brought on board if the target is to be achieved.

In the absence of a cure, education remains the only vaccine we have, and this education should be passed on to young people  that they become ambassadors in their  communities.

Right now, a country that educates it’s youths about HIV and AIDS has a greater chance of eradicating the epidemic by 2030 .If older people who are way above being youths are given the first priority to eradicate AIDS,my fears are that they are all going to die leaving the race unfinished, that spells doom for the future of young people.

More often I hear sentiments like ‘ it’s easier said than done’ , but to meet the target of ending HIV and AIDS by 2030 , things should be easier done than said through strategically placing young people where they deserve to be… I mean they should be standing on the gap.

Addressing inequalities and social exclusion that affect HIV reduction.

HIV  is an epidemic that affects all sections of our societies. Although HIV counseling and testing (HCT) is a pivotal component of global HIV prevention and treatment efforts, I strongly believe that  more needs to be done firstly in the area of addressing inequalities  and the absentism of social participation.

I always want to echo these sentiments that ” whatever is done for the people, without their participation is against them ” however in order to reduce inequalities and social exclusion that affect global efforts to fight and reduce HIV and AIDS, the lack of culturally and linguistically appropriate health services should be addressed first.

We need to come up with communication that caters for everyone from the blind, there is need to enact braille information on HIV, the deaf- health practitioners  need to learn sign language so they meaningfully  attend to the needs of the deaf.our health facilities are they user friendly?  Are our health services providers upholding the ethics of confidentiality? All these need to be  considered .

Having access to health services that meet the cultural and linguistic needs of diverse communications that are inclusive of education, prevention, screening, testing and health care will reduce inequalities that affect the fight against HIV and AIDS.

As countries put into action the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) , there is need to take into recognition the fact that coming up with a “one size fits all approach ” is not going to work this time around. There is need to introspect on what was not done properly on MDGs, lessons learnt, who was being left behind and why.

Novel interventions are required to achieve universal access and uptake of  health facilities as there still exists gender and education-related inequalities in HIV testing.

I would recommend that be there improvement of these interventions that will specifically target less educated individuals, men who are still grounded in partriachism and  still refuse   to get tested and the younger population which is undoubtedly  constituting a larger percentage of  the  world’s  popolation.

Continue reading “Addressing inequalities and social exclusion that affect HIV reduction.”