HIV transmissions among youth continues to surge
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CAPE TOWN - Despite several sexual health and HIV awareness educational campaigns launched by the department of basic education, every week 1 300 young women are infected with HIV.
The National Aids Convention of South Africa (Nacosa) says communities need to play their role in linking young people to services. Colleen Wagner, Adolescent Girls and Young Women Programme Manager at Nacosa said despite the National Department of Health’s PrEP programme and Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) programme for curriculum-based training from Grades four to 12, HIV transmissions among the youth continue to surge. She added that it is important for civil society to play its part in cementing school-based sex education in different spheres in society.
General secretary of the Gugulethu Development Forum, Vincent Domingo explained that it is the responsibility of community members to actively destigmatise HIV, and educate the youth on sexual health.
“Covid-19 has exhausted many government resources and is at the forefront of political agenda, as communities it is up to us to address the surge of HIV infections which is a huge problem currently facing our youth.”
Domingo said that many children are faced with the reality of their parents becoming unemployed because of the pandemic. Due to financial constraints, many girls will either fall pregnant for grant money or fall victim to being sexually exploited by older men for money and this is why it requires further intervention than school education.
Bishop Mfihlo, leader of the Apostolic Amen Church, said school curriculum education can only do so much, as long as talks around sexual health and HIV awareness remain taboo and stigmatised in communities and religious spaces, transmissions will remain high.
“We need to do away with the mentality of not discussing HIV and sexual health with young people. When community elders, church leadership and parents do not discuss the issue and just rely on the government to inform children, it leads to lack of knowledge and poor decision-making.”
He added that community groups and church ministries should actively be helping government’s efforts in educating young children about the risks involved in unprotected sex but also, on various treatments available for people living with HIV.