Sex and HIV at age 10

2010-10-13 00:00

HIV infection is becoming increasingly common among girls aged between 10 and 14, Health MEC Dr Sbongiseni Dhlomo said yesterday.

Dhlomo was addressing delegates at the 12th anniversary of the Partnership Against HIV and Aids Conference at the YMCA in Pietermaritzburg.

He said the growing trend of infection among younger girls is an indication of early sexual debuts and points to younger girls having sex with older men.

A presentation by the Health Department shows that KwaZulu-Natal accounts for 28% of Aids infections in South Africa, the highest in the country.

This is accompanied by the highest tuberculosis burden, and the Health Department states that in every 100 000 people 1 161 have TB, with a TB/HIV co-infection rate of about 70%.

More than 70% of medical hospital admissions are HIV-related.

The province’s ante-natal care survey of 2009, for which pregnant women were tested for HIV, reveals that uThungulu, eThekwini, uMgungundlovu, Ilembe and Ugu district municipalities lead the province in HIV prevalence.

Dhlomo said that if KZN is removed from the South Africa map, the country would be a better place in terms of disease burden.

“These are the harshest facts we need to face and which call for every one of us to work together in the fight against this pandemic.

“It is also scary because the virus is prevalent in young people aged between 15 and 19, with a rising trend among the ages of 10 to 14.

“Most concerning is the fact that at primary school almost all children are HIV negative, but as soon as they get to high school [some of them] become positive,” said the MEC.

He said that fighting diseases is not a government issue, but a societal one.

“We’re also campaigning to save mothers who die in labour. We urge pregnant women who have HIV to report to their nearest clinics so that they can be put on treatment to save their children,” he said.

Of every 100 000 women in labour in South Africa, 625 die, 43% of them due to Aids-related illnesses.

Premier Zweli Mkhize said he sees inter-generational sex as a trend of young girls sleeping with older men and becoming infected with the virus. At a later stage these girls sleep with boys of their age who in turn get the virus. As they grow older, the boys go after girls younger than them and the cycle is repeated.

“If this battle is to be won, then leaders from all sectors must fight inter-generational sex,” he said.

MECs of various departments and mayors from various municipalities, as well as Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, attended the event.

The king applauded provincial political leaders for working together in the fight against Aids without seeking to “score cheap political goals” at the expense of the people.

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