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This brief is based on a background paper prepared for the WHO/UNFPA/Population Council Technical Consultation on Married Adolescents, held in Geneva, Switzerland, December 9–12, 2003. The final paper is entitled “Including married adolescents in adolescent reproductive health and HIV/AIDS policy.” The consultation brought together experts from the United Nations, donors, and nongovernmental agencies to consider the evidence regarding married adolescent girls’ reproductive health, vulnerability to HIV infection, social and economic disadvantage, and rights. The relationships to major policy initiatives—including safe motherhood, HIV, adolescent sexual and reproductive health, and reproductive rights—were explored, and emerging findings from the still relatively rare programs that are directed at this population were discussed. Married adolescent girls are outside the conventionally defined research interests, policy diagnosis, and basic interventions that have underpinned adolescent reproductive health programming and many HIV/AIDS prevention activities. They are an isolated, often numerically large, and extremely vulnerable segment of the population, largely untouched by current intervention strategies. As stated in this brief, promoting later marriage, to at least age 18, and shoring up protection options within marriage may be essential means of stemming the epidemic.






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