One-third of the world’s population, approximately 1.7 billion people, is between the ages of 10 and 24 years.1 Today’s generation of young people is the largest the world has ever known. In general, young people are healthier and more educated today than the generations before them. Nonetheless, young people, particularly young women, face significant challenges that prevent them from meeting their full potential. Half of all new HIV infections occur in young people ages 25 and under, and 14 million adolescent girls give birth every year. Over 70,000 teenage girls are married each day. Complications from pregnancy, childbirth, and unsafe abortions are the major causes of morbidity and mortality for young women between the ages of 15 – 19 years in the developing world. Girls under 16 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s, while mothers under 20 years are twice as likely to die as women in their 20s. People between 15 – 24 years have the highest rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Furthermore, approximately 20% of women under 24 years of age have been infected with the specific strains of human papillomavirus (HPV), an STI that cause almost all cervical cancers.
Women Deliver: Fact Sheets on Young People in Africa
- In sub-Saharan Africa, a woman has a 1 in 16 chance of dying in pregnancy or childbirth.
- In most Sub-Saharan African countries, fewer than one-third of sexually experienced adolescent girls report using a condom during their most recent sexual experience.
- An estimated 4.3% of women ages 15–24 in sub-Saharan Africa are living with HIV, compared with 1.5% of men in that age-group.
- In West Africa, 55% of women give birth before the age of 20 years.
- In Kenya, married women have higher rates of HIV infection than their unmarried peers. Married adolescents’ HIV rate is 6.5 percent, compared to a rate of 2.5 percent for their unmarried peers.
- In Niger, Guinea, Central African Republic, and Mozambique, 25% or more of girls ages 15 –19 had their first experience with vaginal intercourse before age 15.
- In Ghana, 1 in 5 adolescents who have heard of AIDS believe that sharing food can transmit the AIDS virus.
- In Uganda nearly half the number of young people who have had an STI did not seektreatment – mostly because they were embarrassed, did not want other people to know,did not know where to go, or thought it cost too much.
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