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HIV among SL youth on the rise

New HIV infections among youths in Sri Lanka shows an upward trend around the past five years.

Earlier it was among young adults around 30 and 35 but now this age has reduced to 20 to 25. Currently, 2,557 persons are living with HIV in Sri Lanka. A total of 239 new HIV infections were reported from Sri Lanka last year, Former Country Manager UNAIDS Sri Lanka Dr. Dayanath Ranatunga said.

According to Dr. Ranatunga, the main reason behind this negative upward trend is the lack of education and knowledge on reproductive health. Unfortunately, after several decades of hard work by many health professionals and other relevant professionals, schoolchildren and youths in Sri Lanka do not have a system / method to gain scientific education and knowledge on reproductive health. He was addressing the workshop on `Reproductive Health and Rights’ organised by the UNFPA in Colombo yesterday.

Dr. Ranatunga pointed out that the current percentage of teenage pregnancies in Sri Lanka is between five and seven percent (15,000) and this is too high. The main reason for this situation is also the same, which is lack of scientific education and knowledge on reproductive health and sex which is vital for all teenagers.

The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) in Sri Lanka stood at 2.09 in 2016 and the Infant Mortality Rate is nine per 1,000 live births. The Maternal Mortality Rate is 33 per 100,000 in 2015.

UNFPA Consultant Attorney-at-law Kamani Jinadasa said men having sex with men (MSM) have become one of the leading causes for rapidly increasing HIV infections.

The National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) will bring in new bills soon on cyber crimes on children.

In the recent past cyber crimes have led several Sri Lankan women and children to commit suicide.