Situation Analysis

Kenyan youth, especially young women, continue to be at high risk of contracting HIV due to a variety of factors, particularly early sexual debut. Early marriage and “rites of passage” traditionally have served to educate youth on matters of sexuality and marriage. However, for modern Kenyan youth, enrollment in, and graduation from either primary or secondary school and merely becoming sexually active have now defined the transition to adulthood. While school enrollment is one modern substitute for rites of passage, teachers alone cannot simultaneously meet their educational objectives and provide full information on sexual health, teach appropriate sexual behavior, and provide psycho-social support through these formative years to each of their students. While parents play a crucial role in providing this support, most feel uncomfortable discussing sexual matters with their children.

According to the 2008/09 Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS), 11.5% women and 22.3% men had their sexual debut before age 15yrs. This number increases as the age increases with 47% and 58% of youth having sexual intercourse by age 18. The median age for marriage among women and men is 20 and 25 years respectively. This is a significant period of sexual activity before marriage that exposes youth to HIV. It is therefore especially important to target youth 15-19 yrs and specifically girls, with abstinence messages, as they have a much higher HIV prevalence than boys (3% and 0.7% respectively). The prevalence amongst 20 -24 yr old women is 4 times that of men in the same age group (6.4% and 1.5% respectively).


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