28% of South African schoolgirls are HIV positive – FACT

I heard a horrific statistic today.  One of those where I go “hey that’s not right … that can’t be right”

At least 28% of South African schoolgirls are HIV positive compared with 4% of schoolboys.

My brain was trying to work out exactly why there was such a variance in the statistics between the boys and girls.

They are having sex with each other, so it should be a bit closer in terms of related figures.  The boys shouldn’t be 7 times less likely to be HIV positive that the school girls – they are exposed to the same things and equally at risk.  Right?

But it appears I am alarming ill informed.  The girls are testing HIV positive, because of the high prevalence of school girls having sex with “sugar daddies!”

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said that some pregnant girls – aged between 10 and 14 years of age – also tested positive for HIV.

“[About] 77 000 girls had abortions at public facilities. We can no longer live like that. We want to put an end to it,” he said.

More than five million people in South Africa are HIV-positive – about 10% of the total population.  Last year more than 260,000 people with Aids died – almost half the figure of all those who died in the country.

I am astonished.  I am disappointed.

My heart dies a bit for what is happening in our country and these girls.  I have no idea how to remedy the situation.  I have no idea what more our government, HIV Activists, and private individuals/companies can do.  At a certain point you do as much as you can, then you need to step back and let people be responsible for their choices and the repercussions.   But how does one stand and watch this happen?

How you are infected with HIV is really not a difficult concept to get your head around.  Its a really simple message.

I do think that the government and clinics have used an exhaustive campaign to inform the public – the campaign and message has been punted from about 1993/1994, if not earlier.

Why is the message just not getting through?

One in four of our school going girls is HIV positive.  That is a horrific statistic.  What does this mean for our society and our future?

I am actually not sure who to blame.  The school girls?  The parents?  Society?  The sugar daddies?  Society as a whole?  The unemployment and poverty rate?

I am so alarmed, I am nearly speechless.

130314_school girls

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7 Comments

  1. Katherine

     /  March 27, 2013

    An interesting correction here:
    http://mg.co.za/article/2013-03-22-media-reports-that-third-of-schoolgirls-have-hiv-is-incorrect

    rates are still high though, in particular for that group.

    Reply
  2. Joe Maila

     /  March 16, 2013

    The Minister did not say 28% of South African school girls are HIV positive. He only quoted results from an HCT campaign in the Natal Midlands that only covered few schools in which it was found that 28% of girls were found HIV positive. The 28% is certainly not indicitive of SA’s HIV prevalence among school girls as reported. The journalist who wrote the story got it wrong. The point is the minister was trying to get us alive to the fact that sugar-daddies may be responsible for the spread of HIV in SA as it clearly shows that young women are found to be positive than boys their age.

    Thought i should clarify the matter.

    Joe Maila
    Spokesperson for the Minister of Health
    Republic of South Africa.
    082 887 3581

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  March 18, 2013

      Unfortunately he either did not communicate that effectively or it was picked up by various media incorrectly.

      My husband was travelling in China last week,and he saw the figures and the quotes being reported on the news in China, and the percentage of 28% being indicated as the rate for SOUTH AFRICAN school girls.

      So the damage the reporting/and possibly the way the speech was delivered, has spread quite a message throughout the world.

      I am glad there is a focus on “sugar daddies” and how this negatively effects the school girls, I might suggest we find a term that is a bit less “sugar coated” and a bit less “soft” so that the concept is condemned, rather than thought to be just a slightly older man with a young girl. These men are criminals and morally corrupt and in many cases should be charged with statutory rape.

      I look forward to hearing the Minister comment on what the measures are going to be to curb the scourge, both in this area in the Natal Midlands and throughout South Africa.

      Reply
  3. Alexandra

     /  March 15, 2013

    As far as I understand heterosexual women (girls) are at more risk than heterosexual men due to the mechanics/nature of the act. Apparently the main reason is that in order for fertilisation to take place, the female body is designed to allow “foreign” fluid i.e. to supress our immune system in this case. As opposed to all other situations when foreign material is fought/rejected.

    Reply
  4. Tania

     /  March 15, 2013

    This is off HEALTH24…. Almost a third of schoolgirls are HIV+
    At least 28% of schoolgirls across the country are HIV positive, according to stats released by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.
    At least 28 percent of schoolgirls across the country are HIV positive, according to statistics released by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.
    The Sowetan reported that only 4% of boys at schools were HIV positive.
    Motsoaledi released the figures at a National Council of Provinces “taking Parliament to the people” event in Carolina, Mpumalanga.
    Sugar daddies to blame
    “It is clear that it is not young boys who are sleeping with these girls. It is old men. We must take a stand against sugar daddies because they are destroying our children,” Motsoaledi was quoted as saying.
    He said 94 000 schoolgirls fell pregnant in 2011 across the country.
    “About 77 000 girls had abortions at public facilities. We can no longer live like that. We want to put an end to it.”
    Some of the girls who fell pregnant – and tested positive for HIV – were reportedly between the ages of 10 and 14.
    Motsoaledi said of the 52 districts in the country, the Gert Sibande district, in Mpumalanga, topped the list of HIV positive people.

    Reply
  5. reluctantmom

     /  March 14, 2013

    I realised I made an error – only after listening a news interview with Aaron Motsoaledi late this afternoon.

    He said that the figures were based on a small area in Kwa-Zulu Natal which had already been recognised as having a very high HIV infection rate. He did also add that he was not sure what the statistics were for other areas or for the country as a whole, as the study was local to a region.

    Reply
  6. For me, I think a big part of it comes from the men. Their attitudes, both cultural and patriarchal. Men themselves need to change big time for these numbers to go down – and that also comes down to parents and how they raise their men. In some cultures men have a very patriarchal and lax attitude to women, rape and sex. But then approaching cultural issues, and telling people to “change” their cultural attitudes is an absolute minefield.

    Reply

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