Zimbabwe has the third highest rate of prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the world, and people aged 15-24 are at extreme risk. Nearly one-half of all new HIV infections in the country, estimated to be 7,000 new infections daily, occur among this age group. Reproductive health, therefore, should be a priority for this country, in which 30 percent of girls aged 15-19 have already had sex, many without using any methods to prevent HIV transmission or pregnancy. According to a report being released today by the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy (CRLP) and the Child and Law Foundation in Harare, Zimbabwe, however, Zimbabwean teens do not have access to adequate reproductive health services. By age 19, almost 40 percent of teens will have had a child, and the majority of unsafe abortions, estimated to be 60,000-70,000 per year, are performed on teenage girls.
Releasing the report, State of Denial: Reproductive Health Crisis for Zimbabwean Adolescents, to coincide with the United Nations Special Session on Children, CRLP is calling on world leaders to uphold reproductive rights for adolescents and strengthen provisions that would help girls receive proper reproductive healthcare. “If governments want to ensure that adolescents survive into adulthood and avoid the risk of death, ill-health, and abandoned life goals due to teenage pregnancy and HIV infection they must act to reinforce the reproductive rights of adolescents during the Special Session on Children,” said CRLP Director of International Programs Kathy Hall Martinez.