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In Nepal the practice of early marriage is common and is deeply rooted in the culture. The legal minimum age at marriage in Nepal is 18 with the guardian’s consent and 20 without the need for the guardian’s consent (the Muluki Ain, 2019 BS). In fact, however, most women have married at younger ages. For women age 25-49 the median age at first marriage was 17.5 years, and for men age 25-49 it was 21.6 years. Early marriage and resulting early sexual debut can lead to a number of potentially adverse outcomes, including unplanned pregnancy and exposure to sexually transmitted infections.
In Nepal the prevalence of HIV is estimated to be 0.3 percent in the general population age 15-49. According to the 2010 report of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS on the global AIDS epidemic, an estimated 64,000 adults and children in Nepal were living with HIV at the end of 2009 (up from 60,000 in 2001). Of these, 20,000 were women age 15 and older. As in other developing countries, transmission of HIV in Nepal is driven by factors such as poverty, low literacy levels, low levels of condom use, cultural and religious factors, and stigma and discrimination. There are concentrated epidemics in certain high-risk populations in Nepal. Also, young people are particularly at risk. In 2011, only one-quarter of female youth and one-third of male youth age 15-24 had comprehensive knowledge of HIV and AIDS prevention.