Working together ,we will end sugar daddies, we will end blessers
South African Government Launches R3 Billion Campaign To Stop Sugar Daddies Tapping Teenagers
The minister says the three-year campaign, starting next month, will target the 15 to 24 age group, as well as the men who are infecting and impregnating them.
[This is] because we found that, on the socio-behavioural front, their chances of getting HIV/Aids are eight times more than of boys of the same age group.
The campaign not only aims to reduce pregnancy, but also reduce infections, keep girls in school until matric and increase economic opportunities for them so they are not drawn into relationships with older men.
I hope they will be focusing on the younger girls, too, so that instead of trying to change a mind set on the easy way out, they instil values of hard work and success. Probably not.
The wide-ranging plan would have five objectives, he said, which include decreasing infections in girls and young women, and decreasing teenage pregnancies.
“And increasing economic opportunities for young women to try and wean them away from sugar daddies,” Motsoaledi said.
He said the campaign should include all levels of government and society, and be led by young people.
2 500 new HIV infections per week in SA
It will cost R3bn through funding from PEPFAR, Global Fund, the German Development Agency and government departments, Motsoaledi said.
He said that dealing with HIV infections was an uphill battle when it came to socio-behavioural intervention, especially when dealing with 15-24 year olds.
“In this age cohort, there are 5 000 new infections per week in 14 southern and eastern African countries, but half of these occur in South Africa alone,” she said.
The minister also announced a plan to remove CD4 count as an eligibility criterion for ARV treatment.
This will come into effect by September.
This meant the department would move to test and treat in line with the new guidelines released by the World Health Organisation last year, he said.
WHO recommended that ARV treatment be available to all HIV-infected individuals, regardless of CD4 count.
The department would also provide pre-exposure prophylaxis to sex workers in 10 different programmes from June this year.
These new programmes would cost an additional R1bn in the years budget, which Treasury had made available.
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Sugar Daddies behind Alarming HIV Rates?
These sugar daddies of sub-Sahara African are a hot topic with researchers trying to explain the region’s alarmingly high HIV rates for teenage girls.
Many AIDS experts believe liaisons between married, middle-aged men and their clandestine lovers, age 14 to 20, help explain why teenage girls insouthern Africa are five times more likely to be HIV-infected than teenage boys.
The girls and men in these typically brief affairs open up huge networks of infection, AIDS experts said at a symposium during the six-day International AIDS Conference that runs through Friday in Bangkok, Thailand.
Young girls who are looking for support are taking on sugar daddies who are HIV infected. Girls as young as 10 are getting infected, Kay Roberts of Washington-based Population Services International said.
It remains unclear how closely the infection rates are tied to cross-generational sex, or even how prevalent the sugar daddy phenomenon really is. Some researchers suggest that high infection rates among young women have more to do with their sexual anatomy being more susceptible to abrasions that can allow HIV to enter the body.
These older men don’t like condoms and prefer the younger women partly on the belief they’ll be pure, or not infected with HIV, but also to gain status among friends, according to surveys of both men and teenage girls in Kenya, Uganda and South Africa by PSI researcher John Berman.
The girls often believe that older married men won’t be HIV infected, assuming they’ve been faithful to their wives, the survey found.
The sugar daddies are defined as at least 10 years older than their partners, and the girls surveyed were 14-20. The men sometimes go out with the girls socially but only with other men doing the same, and the relationships otherwise are kept mostly hidden, Berman said.
The relationships typically end in a matter of weeks or months when the man loses interests. Both men and girls interviewed for Berman’s survey spoke of possible reprisals — such as rape — if the girls sought to end the relationships.
In return for these liaisons, girls get money they sometimes spend on necessities such as schoolbooks or food, but also on luxuries like trendy clothing, cell phones, hairstyles, Berman said.
The trick is to get as much money as you can first, before you have sex, because he might run away, Berman quoted one teenage girl in Kenya as saying.
Mercy Amba Oduyoye, director of the Institute of Women, Religion, and Culture in Ghana, said the problem stems from societies dominated by males, and that the girls are coerced — even if they’re getting money.
Oduyoye said it’s important to enlist men of stature within sub-Saharan communities, including the clergy, to spread the message that preying on young women is immoral.
In Uganda, Twedese Lukandema of PSI is spearheading a program to tackle cross-generational sex by boosting the esteem of girls and teaching them more about their bodies and how HIV spreads.
British statistician Simon Gregson has devised some rudimentary mathematical models to estimate the effects of cross-generational sex on a country’s HIV prevalence, finding that curbing the phenomenon would tend to bring down transmissions.
In theory, if people limited sex partners only to people exactly their same age, all the world’s sexually transmitted diseases would end after the latest infected generation dies.
But that would never happen in reality, Gregson notes, and he displayed for conference delegates a graph showing that even small deviations from this ideal can keep an epidemic flourishing.
Large HIV epidemics can occur even with low levels of cross-generational sex, Gregson told the symposium.
South Africa is expected to release its new national HIV strategy later this month. In a country that continues to battle the world’s largest HIV epidemic, the document will guide the next six years in the fight against new infections.
TheSouth African National Aids Council (Sanac), civil society groups and key government departments met to finalise the strategy late last week. The plan not only outlines the country’s response to HIV but also guides its efforts against tuberculosis (TB) and sexually transmitted infections.
The latest draft of the national strategic plan, released on 10 March, is unlikely to be drastically different from the final version, which is expected be launched on 31 March in Bloemfontein.
The former head of policy at the HIV lobby group, theTreatment Action Campaignand current editor of the HIV and TB magazineSpotlight,Marcus Low, says although the strategy is ambitious and addresses difficult issues, gaps remain. He explains that the document is largely silent about how the country will hire enough community health workers, for example, to reach targets on HIV and TB treatment and care.
He explains: “To treat three million more people with HIV you’re going to needpeople who will make that happen.The concern is that in that regard, the strategic plan is not connecting the dots enough.”
Low argues that the strategy should have also included more aggressive targets on TB control and treatment inprisons, where transmission continues to be high.
So what will the future hold for the fight against HIV in South Africa? Here are three things you can expect if the latest draft of the country’s strategy is anything to go by.
After a decade of trying, decriminalisation of sex work is still on the table
South Africa’s previous two national plans have called for thedecriminalisation of sex work.Advocates are likely to continue pushing for the decriminalisation of the profession, with the latest strategic plan calling for”steps to be taken towards” this goal.
But the document does not outline what would need to happen make this a reality.
“Once we finalise this national strategic plan, it will have 10 years since decriminalisation has been put on the table,” says Steve Letsike, Sanac deputy chairperson.”If we are still calling for law reform on colonial laws, such as this one, then we are not fulfilling our mandate.”
Sex workers are at a high risk of contracting HIV. Health departmentresearchpublished in 2015, conducted among 2 200 female sex workers in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg found that 40-70 percent were HIV positive.
A2014 studypublished inThe Lancetmedical journal found that decriminalising sex work could prevent up to almost half of all new HIV infections globally in the next decade.
Decriminalising drug use? Not so much.
Decriminalising drug use alongside sex work was labelled as a “game changer” in theinitial version of the planreleased in September 2016.
But the call to decriminalise drug use has since been cut from the plan. Shaun Shelly is the head of policy, advocacy and human rights for people who use drugs, for the non-profit organisationTB/HIV Care Association.
He describes the sudden removal of the previous call for decriminalising drug use: “We battled with issues such as decriminalisation of drug use and the terms that are used to describe it, such as not using the words substance abusers’ and instead using people who use drugs”.
“All of a sudden none of that was in the latest draft of the NSP. It was like reading a totally new document. When we asked about it, nobody could tell us what happened and why it was like this now,” he says.
Shelly says he believes that “political issues” may have made it difficult for policy makers to publicly endorse decriminalising drug use and that this may be to blame for the sudden change in the document.
He adds that the rehabilitation services mentioned in the strategy are not enough to address drug users’ increased risk of HIV.
In 2001, Portugal decriminalised drug use in part as a response to rising rates of HIV infections among injecting drug users. People who use injecting drugs are more likely to contract the virus, partly because of needle sharing.
Revamped sex education and condoms in schools
About a quarter of all new HIV infections occur in women between the ages of 15 and 24, according to the latest Human Sciences Research Councilnational HIV household survey. The 2012 study also found decreasing levels of condom use.
To help counter this, the department of basic education released adraft planfor better sexual education in schools. The policy proposed, for example, providing sexual andreproductive health services to secondary school learners, including HIV counselling and testing, and providing contraception.
South Africa’s new HIV policy says it will be pushing for these kinds of services in schools especially in districts with high levels of HIV infections. Providing contraception at school is likely to be a major change in many schools, as many school governing bodies have decided against allowing condoms in schools.
Schools aren’t the only places condoms may be popping up in future. The plan also calls for government’s newMax condomsto be distributed at spaza shops, hotels, hair salons and brothels.