The study conducted surveillance of HIV infection and behaviour to obtain an understanding of the factors driving the epidemic.
HIV/Aids NPO Right to Care’s adolescent psychosocial programme manager Marnie Vujovic said: “We know that low HIV and sexual health knowledge is a key barrier to reducing HIV infections among young people and that sexual education encourages responsible sexual behaviour."
The study showed the majority of young people living with HIV were in low- and middle-income countries, with 85% in sub-Saharan Africa. Data collected through the study provided a baseline for the latest National Strategic Plan (NSP) on HIV, STIs and TB, while assisting the country to continue monitoring progress made since the previous NSP.
Half of the 15- to 19-year olds living with HIV in the world live in just six countries: South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, India, Mozambique and Tanzania.
Vujovic said that according to the SA Demographic and Health Survey 2016: Key Indicator Report published by Stats SA, 31% of young people in the age group 15 to 24 have never tested for HIV and Aids.
Key populations at higher risk of HIV exposure were both high-risk drinkers 15 years and older (34.7%) and recreational drug users 15 years and older (33.1%).
To promote condom use was a key intervention in preventing HIV, pregnancy and other STIs, said Vujovic.
The National HIV Think Tank’s Concept Note published earlier this month showed that ambitious targets set for SA to decrease its HIV incidence and condom programmes are central to this effort, said Vujovic.