This dialogue came as a result of trying to find and analyse problems related to the spread of HIV/Aids and other sexually transmitted diseases, said convenor Lebohang Miya. The event was attended by more 60 participants.
OurHealth asked what had prompted them to organise the dialogue, Lebohang said: “We have noted that it has now become a practise that people in our communities are not faithful to their partners, and end up having several partners.”
He said health workers worked very hard disseminating information related HIV/Aids, conducting home care – which entailed washing patients and even feeding them – and also distributing condoms and medication to patients, but that they were “witnessing a new sex culture” among young and old, married and unmarried.
Mary Mpopo, a participant, said she found it interesting that most people pointed to poverty as a source of the problem: “It is true that poverty is a cause for concern in our community and that unemployed people will always resort to having multiple partners as a means of getting money to survive.”
Another participant also mentioned the question of people who justified their behaviour based on cultural practices. “There are people who say we do this and that because in our culture it is there – who say for instance that a man especially should have more than one wife or girlfriend in order to be a ‘man’,” said Beauty Masengemi, a community health worker in Bethlehem.
Thipe Tsotetsi, another community health worker, spoke of the unsafe sexual behaviour extending to school going kids and youth.
“These young people see these things in our media and in the way elders conduct their lives. Peer pressure is among the causes for the spread of diseases. Young people think it’s ‘cool’ to be a man if you impregnant a girl and have kids. Even young girls are becoming proud of being mothers at an early age,” he said.