Forty to 70 HIV-positive statuses are recorded in pregnant women in Wakiso district every week, Musa Bungudu, the UNAIDS country coordinator for Uganda, revealed last week. He was attending a stakeholders’ breakfast meeting organised by the Straight Talk Foundation. The foundation wanted to, among other things, raise Shs 10bn for its various programmes with the young.
“We need to join hands with Straight Talk and other partners and do what we can. This Wakiso here? It records 40, 60, 70 pregnant women who are HIV-positive every week,” Bungudu said at the meeting held at Serena Conference Centre. New HIV infections were said to be on the increase last year with the Uganda Aids Commission director general, Dr Christine Ondoa, saying they had hit 380 infections per day and half of these were being seen in girls aged 19 to 24.
Straight Talk’s and others’ efforts at improving the health of the young are, therefore, welcome, according to Bungudu. Teenage pregnancies – with a quarter of girls aged 15-19 already having or expecting a child – and early sexual debut are particularly pressing, Bungudu says. “Even from the age of nine, some girls are having sex. At the age of 10, they are pregnant. By the time they are 14, they have had two other children,” Bungudu said.
Teenage pregnancies are not only bad for the teenage mothers because they aren’t psychologically ready but also because they are not physically ready too. As such, they are more at risk of getting fistulae. Suzan Ajok, the executive director of Straight Talk, said their focus is on education, environment, livelihoods and health among the young. Health communication will serve to address teenage pregnancies and other key health issues.