South Africa News

HSRC concerned over HIV infections

The high HIV infection prevalence in young women in KwaZulu-Natal reveals the alarming trend of older men having s.e.x with young girls, said Investigative health organization, the Human Science Research Council (HSRC).

Unpacking the findings of the sixth South Africa HIV prevalence, incidence, behaviour, and communication Survey (SABSSM VI) in Durban Wednesday, executive director at HSRC Professor Khangelani Zuma said the results indicated that women were most likely to get infected by HIV.

The survey found that KZN still has the highest HIV prevalence in the country among adults aged 15 years and older.

The study was conducted by HSRC with partners, funded by the U.S. president’s emergency plan for Aids relief (Pepfar).

According to Zuma, compared to boys their age, girls were getting infected younger and their prevalence matched the infection rate of men or boys five to 10 years their senior.

This is an indicator that men are having sex with young girls, I don’t want to continue putting the blame on the girls by saying that girls should stop sleeping with older men while we don’t emphasise that men should also refrain from engaging in sexual activity with young girls.

“When a woman is in a sexual relationship with an older man there are power dynamics at play and in most cases there is no condom used,” he said.

Among adults aged 15 years and older, HIV prevalence varied geographically, ranging from 8,2% in the Western Cape to 21,8% in KwaZulu-Natal.

Zuma said the high percentage in KZN shouldn’t be looked through one lens of infection but also through the lens of how many people were on treatment and had a suppressed viral load.

A province may have a low percentage of infections but have a high percentage of people who are not on treatment which is worse than having a high infection percentage.

KZN also had a high number of virally suppressed people, which meant almost everyone who was HIV positive was on treatment.

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