HARARE - Zimbabwe needs to intensify age-specific interventions on sexual and reproductive health amid indications that the majority of young women are having unprotected sex, a women rights lobby group has said.
The sentiments follow 2014 research findings by Guttmacher Institute and University of Zimbabwe’s Centre for Population Studies which state that two thirds of sexually active women aged between 15 and 19 revealed they were having unprotected sex.
“Just one third of single 15-19-year-old women who reported having had sex in the past year used a condom with their most recent partner,” reads the research report.
“A far lower proportion of female than of male adolescents said they could get a condom on their own. Among married adolescents, condom use is far lower, at five percent, which leaves them vulnerable to HIV infection”.
Edinah Masiyiwa, Women’s Action Group (Wag) executive director, said discussion on sexual and reproductive health remains taboo in families.
“How many of us talk about sex with their parents or vice-versa?” she asked yesterday at a stakeholders briefing in Harare.
“At the end of the day, adolescents are not aware of options, do not know where or are not confident of accessing these crucial services.
The report says fewer than half of adolescents in Zimbabwe have comprehensive knowledge about HIV and Aids and there is little difference by gender (42 percent of males and 46 percent of females)”.
Wag programme officer Olga Makoni said apart from opportunistic infections, a plethora of systematic barriers were also exposing a lot of young people to unwanted pregnancies.