In a paper presented at a SAfAIDS media workshop on youth sexual and reproductive health rights last week, the council said youths were now dating older partners, with a smaller number going for HIV-testing largely because of lack of information on reproductive health.
It said many were also exposed to gender-based violence.
The council said young people had negative perceptions towards seeking services mainly because “one bad experience by a young person is a negative experience for all.”
This is said to be worsened by the fact that they were not aware of the services coupled by an unfriendly facility environment.
It said there were, “No separate spaces for young people to access their services, no specific strategy to attract young people to facilities, long waiting periods for young people, user fees that are high, inadequate medication and resources, confidentiality not guaranteed due to set up at facility, judgemental approach by staff, lack of values clarification and gender bias or misconceptions.”
The problems are attributed to the fact that there is no clear government policy that allows young people to access family planning services.
“There is no clear policy that allows for young people to access family planning services,” said ZNFPC. “The policies are not promoting a comprehensive approach to sexual and reproductive health in the education sector, e.g condom use. They are also cultural values that state that it’s a taboo for parents to discuss sexual reproductive health with a child.”
ZNFPC said there was need to ensure that the youth have access to sexual and reproductive health information to ensure a health youth.
Statistics from ZNFPC indicate an HIV prevalence rate of 6,2% among female youths aged between 15 and 19, with 3,1% for males of the same age group.
Females in the 20-24 age group have a 16,3% prevalence rate, with their male counterparts having 5,8%. Those in the 25-29 age group have 28,8% and 13,1% for females and males respectively.