Health dept in bid to wean girls off sugar daddies - Motsoaledi

Cape Town – The Department of health will launch a programme next month designed to keep young women away from so-called sugar daddies.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi on Tuesday presented his budget speech in Parliament, where he announced a plan for the younger generation.

"Next month [June], we shall launch a three-year campaign focusing on girls and young women in the age group of 15-24, and the men who are infecting and impregnating them," he said.

The wide-ranging plan would have five objectives, he said, which include decreasing infections in girls and young women, and decreasing teenage pregnancies.

Other objectives were decreasing sexual and gender-based violence and keeping girls in school until matric.

"And increasing economic opportunities for young women to try and wean them away from sugar daddies," Motsoaledi said.

He said the campaign should include all levels of government and society, and be led by young people.

2 500 new HIV infections per week in SA

It will cost R3bn through funding from PEPFAR, Global Fund, the German Development Agency and government departments, Motsoaledi said.

He said that dealing with HIV infections was an uphill battle when it came to socio-behavioural intervention, especially when dealing with 15-24 year olds.

"In this age cohort, there are 5 000 new infections per week in 14 southern and eastern African countries, but half of these occur in South Africa alone," she said.

The minister also announced a plan to remove CD4 count as an eligibility criterion for ARV treatment.

This will come into effect by September.

This meant the department would move to test and treat in line with the new guidelines released by the World Health Organisation last year, he said.

WHO recommended that ARV treatment be available to all HIV-infected individuals, regardless of CD4 count.

The department would also provide pre-exposure prophylaxis to sex workers in 10 different programmes from June this year.

These new programmes would cost an additional R1bn in the year’s budget, which Treasury had made available.

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