Kenyan teens want contraceptives to prevent pregnancy - survey

A huge chunk of teens are worried of pregnancy, not sexually transmitted diseases.

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A huge chunk of the respondents – aged 15 to 17 - drawn from Homa Bay, Mombasa and Nairobi counties, claimed that they are irked to use contraceptives, to prevent early pregnancies.

Guttmacher and African Population and Health Research Center researchers interviewed 2,484 teenagers for the study, titled ‘From Paper to Practice: Sexuality Education Policies and Their Implementation in Kenya’, which will be released tomorrow.

Respondents said they were very interested in knowing about HIV/Aids, reproductive health, puberty and the resulting physical changes in the body, abstinence, and sexually transmitted diseases.

Only two out of every 10 interviewed said they knew something about contraceptive methods, with only one out of 10 admitting to have at least used a contraceptives. Less than two out of 10 said they knew where to find them.

The knowledge in use of contraceptives by the teens opens yet a new page on teens sex, putting parents on the spot.

Nearly three out of every 10 teenagers interviewed said they were sexually active, majority of whom were males. Girls, however, are known to have an early sexual debut compared to boys, and therefore it is possible that these figures were quite conservative.

In the turn around, boys could also claim to be sexually active either to mislead the researchers, or as a way of proving they have come of age.

Previous studies have shown that 62 per cent of girls and 81 per cent of boys aged 15 to 19 know where to get condoms, but only 49 per cent and 58 per cent, respectively, have comprehensive knowledge of HIV and Aids.

HIV prevalence among 15-to-24-year-old girls is four per cent, compared with two per cent among their male counterparts, and the number of new infections among females aged 10 to 19 in 2015 was more than double that among males in the same age-group.

Respondents said the current sexuality education curriculum is “highly moralistic” and fear-based as it only preaches abstinence.

The church and Parliament have been generally opposed to the inclusion of topics related to contraceptives in sex education because such information, they say, could encourage teenage sex.

But the study dispels this by citing two studies in the US that show there is no link between improved access to contraceptives and increased sexual activity among adolescents.

Aimed at addressing the high levels of unprotected sex, STis, early pregnancies and abortion among adolescents, the study could be seen as teetering on the edge of morality by religious and social purists.

But in a country where 20 per cent of youth aged between 15 and 24 say they had sex before turning 15 — according to the Ministry of Health — this is a conversation that parents, teachers and policy makers are forced to have.

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