More SA girls have had sex by 15

2010-05-14 07:37

About one in seven girls and one in ten boys have had sex by the

time they turn 15.

This is according to a report compiled by the Human Sciences

Research Council (HSRC) from data collected in 2008 for a national HIV

prevalence survey.

The survey covered 15 000 households across the country.

In the 12 to 14 age group, 14.5% of girls said they had had sex.

The comparable figure for boys was 10.8%.

Most boys in the survey – which covered children from birth to 18

– tended to have sex with partners in their own age groups.

However, more than a quarter of girls had most recently had sex

with males who were five or more years older than themselves.

This put the girls at risk of contracting HIV at an early age

because older male partners were more likely to be HIV positive.

Among those who were sexually active in the 15- to 18-year group,

just under one in three had had more than two sexual partners in the last


The figure was lower – 9.5% – for girls.

However, it appeared that most of this sex was protected by

condoms, with usage at last sexual encounter as high as 92.1% for boys.

HIV prevalence

The report also said HIV prevalence among infants from birth to two

years was 2.1%, lower than the 3.3% average in the age group birth to four


This could indicate that the mother-to-child transmission

prevention programme had had a positive impact in the two years before the


In that period, coverage had increased significantly to reach

almost three quarters of HIV-positive mothers with antiretroviral


The lowest HIV prevalence among all children, not just infants, was

in the Western Cape, where it was less than 1%.

KwaZulu-Natal stood at 3.4%, and Mpumalanga the highest of the nine

provinces, with 4.5%.

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