DURBAN - A non-profit organisation has warned South Africans to remember that the consequences of having unprotected sex are not romantic.
Chief technical specialist for prevention, care and treatment at the NGO Right to Care, Precious Robinson said people must use condoms to reduce the risk of getting HIV and sexually transmitted infections, which include human papillomavirus (HPV).
Robinson’s plea forms part of Right to Care’s efforts during Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) and Condom Awareness Week (February 10 -16, 2022), to raise awareness about the consequences of unprotected sex and avoiding healthcare services.
She said consequences could include chronic pelvic pain, cancers, ectopic pregnancies, infertility, adverse pregnancy outcomes, neonatal death and congenital abnormalities. She also added that some sexually transmitted diseases increased the chances of getting HIV.
“The high numbers of STI cases have partly been due to inadequate prevention. South Africans, and young people especially, need to protect themselves. Most global health targets to end and prevent HIV and STIs for 2020 were missed because the focus was on Covid-19, and South Africa is no exception,” she said.
She said young South Africans had their whole lives ahead of them but if they did not use condoms, protect themselves and seek out health services their future will be more difficult.
Robinson further explained that many people were vulnerable because they were unable to avoid infection or pregnancy and this could be due to gender-based violence, lack of knowledge as well as social and cultural pressures.
She added that sexual and reproductive health education and services were as important for men as they were for women. She further encouraged the public to make use of available information services from non-governmental organisations NGOs, youth groups, health care providers in family planning, STI and HIV clinics, teachers and parents.
Robinson said: “Circumcision also plays a key role in preventing STIs especially HPV which causes cervical cancer in women. Furthermore STIs and HIV cause 2.3 million deaths and 1.2 million cases of cancer each year globally and this imposes a major burden on health systems.”