HIV is the leading cause of death for women of reproductive age worldwide (UN). In Ethiopia, only twenty percent of women and 38% of men age 15-49 have comprehensive knowledge about the modes of HIV transmission and prevention. One in ten girls has first sexual experience before the age of 15.
At the same time, the proportion of people getting tested on HIV is very low. Only one fifth of people got tested in the last 12 months.
Women are at higher risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. This risk is further increase by violence and harmful attitudes where 30 percent of women believe that women cannot refuse sex with her husband if she knows he had sex with other woman, and 40 percent believe that she cannot ask him to wear a condom if she knows he has a sexually transmitted disease. Only 45 percent of women can say no to their husbands if they do not want to have sex and only 30 percent can ask them to wear a condom.
Early start of sexual life and early marriage further aggravates the issues. Only 35 percent of women use any modern form of contraception. Among women age 15-19, 10 percent are already mothers and 2 percent are pregnant with their first child.
Adolescent and youth (10-29 years) constitute 42 percent of Ethiopia’s rapidly growing population estimated to 88.4 million inhabitants. They can represent an enormous potential for economic growth. However, the existing challenges in sexual and reproductive health of young people need to be addressed. Young people lack access to information. Sexual education is not part of the school curricula. Majority of young people do not talk about the issue with their parents. ECYDO increases in its intervention the knowledge of HIV transmission and other sexually transmitted diseases, talks with the young people about puberty, pregnancy prevention and respectful relationships. ECYDO uses the power of theatre, music and other entertaining forms to convey the messages to young people in the most natural way. At the same time, we engage young people to become the agents of change themselves.