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Members of a youth group in Addis Ababa meet regularly to debate sexual and reproductive health issues. Photo: Sheikh Rajibul Islam/duckrabbit
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia -- A young Ethiopian woman went to a health clinic and found out she was pregnant. She was asked to take an HIV test and found out she was HIV positive. She told her husband she was pregnant but not about being HIV positive, and she suggested they be tested together. He refused, and said he would leave her if she got tested. She decided to have an abortion and went to a health professional who advised her against it. At that point, she decided to have her baby despite the fact that she had no support from her husband.
That story was acted out in a session at the International Conference on Family Planning held here from November 12-15, but is based on a true story. It is one of many such storylines being played out in real life by the five million young people aged 15-24 living with HIV, especially by young women living with HIV, young sex workers, young men who have sex with men, young transgender people and young people who use drugs. This is true because they are the people least able to access sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning. They also face stigma and discrimination based on age, gender, HIV status and sexual orientation.