Aids campaign launched: M’well teens, young adults most at risk

2017-10-04 06:02

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The campaign will be ongoing, and while it will cover the entire city, most of the focus will be on Motherwell.

Mokonenyane added, “The advantage of this campaign is the fact that it is grounded in the community and we are working with an NGO that is entrenched within the community of this area. Schools have also embraced this campaign, and teachers and pupils will be taking it to their schools and homes.”

The day started with a march, where the youth and pupils, joined by members of the South African Police Service (SAPS), marched through the streets of Motherwell to raise awareness of the challenges faced by young people, predominantly girls, in the Motherwell area.

The proceedings at the launch also had a practical component: a number of young people present went through HIV counselling and testing, life skills guidance and advice. They were also given valuable information about HIV and Aids, dealing with sexual abuse, the risks associated with the termination of pregnancy and the repercussions of teenage pregnancy.

The spotlight was also turned on the thorny issue of sugar daddies – now popularly known as blessers.

The highest HIV and Aids infection rate was recorded among girls no older than 25. The infection rate among men of the same age is far lower.

“This is a glaring issue that clearly indicates that these young girls are taken advantage of by men far older than them and infect them with HIV because they do not have the power to say ‘no’. Part of our plan is to put parents at the centre, but the integration of all stakeholders is critical,” said Mokonenyane.

The HIV positive rate at an antenatal clinic in Sub-district A (Motherwell) is 18.5, compared to the much lower rate of 8.2% recorded in Sub-district C, which covers the Bethelsdorp areas.

The number of babies born to mothers under the age of 18 in Sub-district A is 657 per quarter, compared to the much lower figure of 2014 in Sub-district C.

Speaking at the event, Ward 58 councillor Mendiswa Makunga urged parents to be open and frank with their children in communicating about sex and sexuality, especially as teenagers are easily influenced to make bad decisions. The result being the high rates of sexually transmitted infections and teenage pregnancies.

“The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality is committed to take the fight against HIV and Aids and teenage pregnancies to greater levels, because too many of our youth are falling through the cracks and end up unemployed and destitute.

“This leads them directly to sexual predators, who entice them with material things,” said Makunga.

Masiphathisane High School learner Sokhana Boltina (15) said that she was grateful to be part of the HIV testing campaign.

“Attending this programme has empowered me. From now on I will be an ambassador for this programme. I will take it back to my school and community. I now know better about unplanned pregnancies and the importance of abstaining from sex, using condoms and staying in school to secure my future,” said Boltina.

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