Generally, in south Sudan 33% of the population is aged between 10-24 years. These young people in South Sudan are at risk from a broad range of health problems. Lack of information on RH on one hand and absence of youth friend RH services in the health facilities on other hand combined with social and biological factors are contributing factors to high risk behaviors among young people. They are at particular risk for unwanted pregnancy and pregnancy related complications, STIs and HIV/AIDS.
Other significant problems include: physical and psychological trauma resulting from sexual abuse, gender-based violence and other forms of physical violence and accidents. The youth are vulnerable to these problems because they often venture into sex unprepared; have sex with multiple partners; engage in alcohol and drug abuse that impairs judgment; have limited awareness of STI prevention; lack skills to negotiate safer sex; and have poor health-seeking behavior.
An unplanned pregnancy can be a frightening, if not devastating experience for teenagers. This often leads them to seek unsafe clandestine abortions. Teenage pregnancies in south Sudan was reported at 300 per 1,000 in 2012. Its reported that with only 1% of the girls enrolled in primary one reach primary eight and 39.1% of the girls drop out of secondary system before graduation according to the General Education Strategic Plan, (2012-2017). Among the major contributing factor on drop out is early pregnancy. Preventing unintended pregnancy and reducing adolescent childbearing through universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services are critical to further advances in the health of women, children and adolescents.
Sexually Transmitted Infections are major problem for the youth in south Sudan. According to Situational Analysis of Reproductive Health and Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health in Southern Sudan by SSMOH/UNFPA, about 10% of the young population have ever experienced symptoms of STIs. Youth in south Sudan have little understanding of STIs with only 38% have adequate knowledge of STIs. The 2012 South Sudan Antenatal Clinic Sentinel Surveillance for HIV and Syphilis estimated the prevalence of Syphilis 8.3% with extremely high rate of positive tests for syphilis in both males and females of 9.2% among young people below the age 19 years.
When disaggregated by age HIV Prevalence of 15-24 year old ANC respondents for ANC respondents was 2.3% for Female aged 15-19 slightly lower than those females aged 20-24 (3.3%). According to 2010 South Sudan House Hold Health Survey (SHHS), only 24.04% have ever been tested for HIV. The SHHS 2010 data also show that only 10 percent of young women aged 15-24 years have comprehensive knowledge of HIV prevention methods and transmission. This is because many youths lack adequate decision-making skills, social support, or the ability to adopt safer sexual behaviors. Although Family planning prevents HIV/AIDs, Majority of youth in South Sudan 81% are not aware of any contraceptive methods with female youth at an even lower awareness than their male peers. The SHHS 2010 reports the unmet for contraception among young girls aged 15-19 at 25.9% and for 15-24 years at 24.9%. Condom use among the sexually active youth is relatively low with only 24% in-school Youth reporting ever using condoms of which 16% reported condom use at first sexual intercourse and among the Out-of-School Youth (OSY) group only 27% report using a condom during the first sex act.
Sexual and reproductive health and the full enjoyment of the associated human rights are at the very heart of adolescents` transition to adulthood. Access to sexual and reproductive health service including contraceptives, HIV/AIDs prevention and treatment is fundamental to these rights. Youths and adolescents have particular needs for information, counseling and services so that they can make free and informed decision.