Let’s face it. The evangelical church doesn’t have a stellar reputation when it comes to sex education. When we pair that fact with the fallout of HIV and AIDS in Ethiopia, the outcome has proven to be debilitating. Marriages and families have split, median sexual debut is now at 12.5 years old, and according to the Ethiopian Medical Association, sex with multiple partners is at an alarming 50% among high school students aged 15-19 years in the Chirkos subcity.
USAID reports that complications from pregnancy and childbirth continue to be a leading cause of death among adolescent girls aged 15-19 in low and middle income countries while still births and death are 50% more likely for babies born to mothers younger than 20. We know that young women who avoid unwanted pregnancy are more likely to stay in school, participate in the workforce and have healthier better educated children. The HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Office and World Bank identified college and pre-college students as one of the most vulnerable groups in Ethiopia.
It is clear that the pandemic and our history of involvement with the HIV and AIDS story has given us a lesson that the community structures, family, church and educational, are not ready and active to be engaged in the new problems for this generation of Ethiopian young people. The structural setup and segmented groups are inflexible and are not open to prioritize this to take necessary measures to curb impact and spread. Instead, stigma and discrimination prevail and denial and rejection of the real problems hinder progress.
Well, we are excited about the integrated efforts of HOPE for AIDS once again. This year, our Ethiopian friends launch a new program. Anchor for Generations aims to open the door and start the conversation about sex and sexuality issues. With the support and administration of the church, the HFA Anchor for Generations team will conduct trainings for church leadership, married couples, and college students to lead their respective communities in a healthy dialogue about whole sexuality and all that comes along with it. No question is off limits. To watch the impact of this program as it kicks off in 2015, “like” our Facebook page as we keep you updated.
Carry on, Ethiopia.