MEC condemns relationships with blessers ‘Girls must say no to blessers’ - MEC

2016-09-28 06:00
Photo: supplied KZN Health MEC Dr. Sibongiseni Dhlomo with members of the United Congregations Church in Esidumbini area in Ndwedwe.

Photo: supplied KZN Health MEC Dr. Sibongiseni Dhlomo with members of the United Congregations Church in Esidumbini area in Ndwedwe.

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KZN MEC for Health Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo attended a community outreach programme last Friday in the Esidumbini area in Ndwedwe, iLembe District where he said religion could play a role in the efforts to reduce teen pregnancy and the rate of HIV infections in this province.

Dhlomo said that his department will incorporate the message found in the Bible from the book of Timothy 1, verse 12 into its ‘anti-sugar-daddy’ (blesser) campaign.

He said that though the Department of Health has done much to distribute HIV treatment and also to reduce the rate of new infections, it is concerning that according to statistics women aged between 15 and 25 are at higher risk of being infected and that this can partly be attributed to intergenerational sex.

“As a government, we have come to accept that, as a matter of fact, young people do engage in unprotected sex. As a result of unprotected sex, they fall pregnant and get HIV and sexually-transmitted infections, which remain high in this province at 57 per 1000 against the target of 35 per 1000.

“We ask for assistance from parents and society at large in the promotion of celibacy, adherence to one sexual partner and use of HIV prevention and family planning services that are available in the department,” he said.

He called on young people to opt for abstinence to avoid being infected with HIV or falling pregnant.

“You take a decision to say, ‘I will take off my clothes’ - you just can never say it was a mistake. You prepare yourself to go there [and have sex]. Let there be no one who will say they don’t know what happened when they fall pregnant. You make a conscious decision that these things are going to happen. It starts there. Therefore, it is up to you to ensure that does not happen,” he said.

Dhlomo said that out of one million babies born countrywide each year, 8% (or 80 000) are delivered by teen mothers who, by sheer virtue of their age, are neither physiologically nor psychologically ready to bear children.

He said that according to results of a study conducted by the centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) female children appear to contract HIV much earlier than their male counterparts.

He said that the study also found that almost all school going children are found to be HIV negative once they have completed Grade 7 except for a few cases of failed Prevention of Mother To Child (PMTC) HIV transmission.

However, once the children progress to high school, the MEC said that seven to 10% of the female children completing Grade 12 test positive for HIV with their male counterparts testing negative.

“This is because the girls are not sleeping with boys of the same age.

“The irony of this situation is that when they enter university, 10% of the girls are HIV positive, but by the time they finish their Honours degree after four years, there is 25% HIV positivity among both young men and women, which means they have infected each other,” he said.

Dhlomo said the department has launched the Dual protection Campaigns which is targeting students at Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and Institutions of Higher Learning.

“If we are to win the war against HIV and Aids, there needs to be behavioural change, particularly among the youth. Our message is that diseases must be prevented because prevention is better than cure.

“Young people are therefore urged to abstain from sexual activity for as long as possible – or to apply for Dual Protection by using male or female condoms during every episode of sex while combining this with medical male circumcision.

“We also strongly urge parents, guardians and young people themselves to opt for medical male circumcision since it has been found to reduce the risk of female-to-male sexual transmission of HIV by approximately 60%,” he said.

The department also offered general health and eye care screening and medical male circumcision services, among others.

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