Impregnated at 13, Infected with HIV: “My Life Has Never Been The Same”

“Teenage Pregnancy Robbed Me of My Childhood and Dream Life”

"I wish life had a remote, I would rewind back and ensure that I've saved myself from all this. I normally feel disappointed to an extent I have to ask myself why life had to unfold like this". This is the story of Linda (not her real name), who got pregnant at the age of 13.

To add an insult on her injury, she was infected with HIV by the man who was her boyfriend and provider, forcing her to drop out of school to take care of her child.

Living with her widowed mother and her 5 siblings was unbearable in the village which is rural and poverty runs deep. Financial stress was ever before her eyes. She could not afford basic needs like meals, pads and school fees. That’s when she met the man who impregnated her and also infected her with HIV and AIDs.

Adolescent pregnancy is one of the commonest risk factors, exposing young girls to the risk of HIV and and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Most of the pregnancies are unplanned and more likely to occur among poor and uneducated communities.

“The pregnancy and disease disrupted my life. It robbed me of my childhood and my future life changed for worse at some point I went into depression.” Linda, who is now 24 years, explained.

Her friends avoided her and the community shunned her branding her a bad girl. Other parents had to warn their children not to speak to her because they thought she would influence them negatively.

Due to stigmatization and shame from the community, she was forced to marry the man who impregnated her and only stayed with him for a year. She later ended the marriage due to domestic violence from her partner.

Pregnant girls often drop out of school, limiting their opportunities for future employment and perpetuating the cycle of poverty. Linda now works as a house help in Nairobi to support her kid and other siblings.

Linda's story represents untold stories of such cases that happen in most rural areas in Kenya. Most teenage girls are prone to teenage pregnancy because of lack of education and awareness on sexual and reproductive health. Poverty makes them even more vulnerable to manipulation.

Provision of basic amenities to the girl child like sanitary pads, school fees, basic health education on sexual and reproductive health and other basic needs should be addressed to ensure that as society, we slowly but surely reduce and ultimately eliminate cases of teenage pregnancies.

Legal assistance to teenagers who get impregnated should be bolstered across the county to ensure that perpetrators of the acts are punished by law.