The Health Ministry says it is working with key partners on a nationally coordinated response to support sexual and reproductive health programs for the youth.

It says the move comes following an increase in HIV infections and reports of risky sexual practices

State Minister, Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, said data from the National Family Planning Board (NFPB) on youth sexual health practices over the last four years, show a steady rise in new cases of HIV among the youth population.

She noted that in 2020, of the 618 new HIV cases reported, 16 per cent or  99 fell in the adolescent age group, 15 to 19.

In addition, a 2017 survey picked up high levels of sexual risk-taking behaviour, including early sexual debut, multiple sex partnerships, and cross-generational sex and transactional practices among the youth population.

Also of concern, the State Minister said, is information from the Registrar General’s Department (RGD), which shows that 18 per cent of births are among young women 16 to 24 years old.

Mrs. Cuthbert-Flynn was addressing a World AIDS Day forum on Friday, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston.

The State Minister said that the adolescent population must have access to credible information and services to make responsible decisions regarding their reproductive health.

She said that the Ministry is willing to support and endorse interventions that target the youth and to help them foster good sexual health practices and lead an all-round healthy lifestyle.

Recognised globally on December 1, World AIDS Day aims to raise awareness so that people living with and affected by the virus can have access to the lifesaving services they need.