Small, local nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) in Soweto have called on Lesufi to provide Gauteng pupils with condoms at schools just three months after the National Department of Basic Education proposed a new draft policy that would make the same recommendation for schools nationally.
Among the NGOs supporting the call were Isizinda Sempilo, which distributes HIV information, as well as the Qalakabusha and Pimville HIV and AIDS Call Group home-based care organisations.
According to Lesufi, he had not objection to condoms in schools but said HIV awareness had to accompany condoms.
“I don’t have a problem with condom distribution in schools, but we cant push the condom distribution while people lack education about the disease itself,” said Lesufi, speaking at a Soweto youth dialogue on HIV organised by the Department of Health yesterday. “We want every educator to receive HIV training when they go for their specialisation trainings, we will partner with Department of Health and NGOs to help us.”
South Africa’s latest Human Science Research Council (HSRC) HIV household survey found that although young people were much more likely than older people to use condoms, condom use had dropped by about 20 percent in youth aged 14 to 24 since the 2008 survey.
The survey also noted that while youth were more knowledgeable about HIV than South Africans older than 50 years of age, there were significant decreases in HIV knowledge among males of all ages, particularly black men between the ages of 25 and 49 years old.
As the country prepares to host the next International AIDS Conference in Durban next year, young people said the upcoming conference should find a way to talk to young primary school children about sex.
About 10 percent of all children begin having sex before the age of 15, according the latest HSRC survey.
Meanwhile, Gauteng MEC for Health Qedani Mahlangu issued a warning to young women.
“Young women you should stop dating sugar daddies and start dating people in your age group to reduce the rate of contracting and spreading HIV,” she told Health-e News. “Don’t let these old men destroy your future by leaving you with children and HIV.”
While South African HIV campaigns have long warned women to avoid older men or “sugar daddies” due to a higher risk for HIV, a 2014 Africa Centre study found that women with older partners in rural KwaZulu-Natal showed no increased HIV risk compared when compared to peers dating men of their own age. – Health-e News.
An edited version of this story was also published in The Star newspaper.