Correlation Among HIV/AIDS, Early School Withdrawal, Teenage Marriage, Pregnancy Seen in Tanzania, Report Says
There is a "strong correlation" in Tanzania among HIV/AIDS, early school withdrawal and teenage marriage and pregnancy, according to a report conducted by the Tanzania Media Women's Association, IRIN/Reuters AlertNet reports. Girls at age 15 in Tanzania are allowed to get married with parental consent, and between 20% and 40% are married before adulthood, IRIN/Reuters AlertNet reports. The report, which is based on data of pregnant teenage girls and women who attended hospitals in the southeastern coast and central Morogoro provinces, finds that 76.6% of the study participants were aware of the health risks associated with HIV; however, most declined to receive an HIV test. In addition, more than 6% of the girls and women who did receive an HIV test were found to be HIV-positive. According to the report, the husbands of the pregnant girls and women included in the study "characteristically have had multiple partners, which puts the girls at the risk of being infected with HI[V]." Upendo Mwinchande, director of the AIDS Business Coalition Tanzania, said, "The education system is not protective of young girls," adding that "some as young as 11 years are withdrawn from school to be married off. In health terms it is dangerous because the tissues of the sexual organs are delicate and therefore prone to rupture during sexual intercourse, creating entry points for HIV." According to Mwinchande, school-age girls and women often are "too young and ignorant about the importance of knowing their HIV/AIDS status and lack the courage to convince their partners to know their sero-status." According to IRIN/Reuters AlertNet, Tanzania in August announced a new education policy that focuses on educating girls. Under the policy, the government in 2007 is scheduled to build more district boarding schools to increase the number of girls staying in school (IRIN/Reuters AlertNet, 9/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.