Sugar daddies ruin lives – health MEC

2012-01-07 17:22

Warning! “Sugar daddies destroy lives.” This is the message displayed on billboards recently put up across KwaZulu-Natal.

The aim is to highlight the dangers of cross-generation sex which leads to high teenage pregnancies and HIV infection rates among young girls, says the provincial department of health.

KwaZulu-Natal had the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the country in 2010.

It also had the highest number of pregnant girls between the ages of 10 to 18 infected with HIV.

Department spokesperson Chris Maxon said cross-generation sex was the main driver behind high teenage pregnancy and HIV infection rates among young girls in KwaZulu-Natal.

“This is why the department has started a campaign warning against ‘sugar daddies’. If we want to reduce HIV infection and teenage pregnancy we have to create awareness about the dangers of cross generation sex,” he said.

The billboards have been erected along major routes and cities in the province.

For the past few years KwaZulu-Natal has been battling with teenage pregnancy.

The official statistics for 2010 indicate that 16 910 girls gave birth at public healthcare facilities across the province.

Although the numbers were down from 24 101 in 2009, it still raised questions about sexual and reproductive health education in this coastal region.

Maxon said: “Contraception use among teenagers in the province was very low and the department was partly to blame.
 
“Our messages have been focusing largely on preventing sexually transmitted infections.

We forgot to talk about preventing unwanted pregnancies, even though the two go hand-in-hand,” he said.

Last year Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi expressed similar sentiments.

He said government had lost the plot in the early 2000s when it started advocating abstinence and condom use to prevent HIV infection and forgot to educate young people that unprotected sex also led to unwanted pregnancies.

Motsoaledi’s spokesperson, Fidel Hadebe, this week said the department was rectifying the mistake with a school health programme.

To be championed by retired nurses, the programme will be launched this year in the poorest schools across the country.

Nurses will visit schools regularly to help with basic health issues like eye care, immunisation, dental and hearing problems and reproductive health rights.

“Children are afraid to go to clinics and inquire about contraception because nurses are often hostile towards them. The school health programme will enable pupils to have access to reproductive health services in a comfortable environment,” said Hadebe.

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