Combination HIV prevention and comprehensive support that address biomedical, structural and behavioral vulnerabilities is what is needed by adolescent girls and young women in Nairobi to enable them prevent sexual health risks, including HIV infection and to stay on life-long treatment if infected with HIV. This was the main message delivered by a team of young people under the Positive Young Women Voices (PYWV) last week to a group of leaders from the Nairobi City County, the NACC and the UNAIDS. UNAIDS Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Dr. Catherine Sozi and Nairobi County representative, Hon. Esther Passaris were among the guest who visited the adolescent girls and young women in Nairobi’s Dandora estate.
The visit to the Positive Young Women Voices occurred at a time many stakeholders and AIDS programmmers are wondering how to reduce the vulnerability of adolescent girls and young women to sexual health risks, including HIV. The vulnerability is really high among young people in the urban informal settlements. The vulnerability is also reflected among adolescent girls and young women living with HIV who are facing challenges and are not adhering optimally too HIV treatment. This was also the main challenge debated at the just concluded 2018 Scientific HIV Prevention, Care and Treatment Scientific Conference where it was reported that young people 15 to 19 years living with HIV are not achieving viral suppression to the expected levels even after enrolled on treatment. It is also in this age and especially among girls and young women where new HIV infections are still relatively high.
PYWV membership have the real issues and real solutions and engaging them in community dialogue is one way to find solutions to their vulnerability and low uptake of health and HIV services. Delivering the 90.90.90 targets by getting young people tested; those tested adhering to treatment to be virally suppressed, will require that the structural barriers such as stigma and discrimination, sexual and gender based violence, poverty, unemployment, lack of basic necessities are addressed and strategies are put in place for empowerment beyond testing and treating. NEPHAK therefore looks up to the PYWV to reach out to girls and young women and their partners to address new HIV infections and eliminate AIDS related stigma and death for the improvement of health and well-being of young people.