Insights on HIV and Sexual & Reproductive Health Care for Adolescents and Young People
Tanzania is making good progress in reducing HIV infections among adults, but the country is lagging behind in protecting its young people. Although the HIV prevalence among 15-19 year-old adolescent boys and girls has decreased, HIV related mortality has not decreased, and the highest increase in new infections is seen in young people aged 20-24.
More than half of young people have initiated sexual activity by age 18 and are thus vulnerable to sexual and reproductive health problems. These problems include teenage pregnancy and early child bearing – affecting 1 in 4 teenage girls – as well as complications arising from unsafe abortions. Adolescents in particular are at higher risk of maternal mortality and morbidity.
There are currently 12 million adolescents in Tanzania, making up 23 per cent of the population; a figure that is expected to grow to nearly 30 million by 2050. Yet, adolescents’ and young people’s specific health care needs tend to be overlooked. Little is known about the extent to which young people access health care due to a limited availability of age and sex disaggregated data. As a consequence, policies and programs targeting HIV and sexual and reproductive health may fail to achieve their full intended impact.