Smanga Kumalo — The number of HIV positive South African schoolgirls is significantly higher than that of boys, a recent report revealed. According to the report, at least 28% of South African schoolgirls are HIV positive compared with 4% of boys.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said this is due to “sugar daddies” exploiting schoolgirls. Motsoaledi was speaking at a public meeting in the town of Carolina in, Mpumalanga province. He said the large number of young girls who were HIV-positive destroyed his soul.
“It is clear that it is not young boys who are sleeping with these girls. It is old men,” other media quotes him as saying.
“We must take a stand against sugar daddies because they are destroying our children.” He said 94,000 schoolgirls also fell pregnant in 2011, and 77,000 had abortions at state facilities, The Sowetan newspaper reports.
Although Motsoaledi could be right about sugar daddies, his conclusion may be flawed. Even though the number of HIV positive girls is seven times higher than that of boys, this does not eliminate the possibility that it is the few HIV positive boys that are effective at spreading HIV. It is well known that young boys respect someone who has many girlfriends. They tend to do anything in their power to have more than one girlfriend. Therefore, the numbers could mean that every HIV positive boy infects 7 girls. It is therefore important for programmes aimed at fighting HIV to encourage boys to be monogamous.
South Africa has one of the world’s highest HIV/AIDS infection rates, although the number of cases resulting in death is in sharp decline due to improved antiretroviral access. About 10% of South Africans are living with HIV, official statistics show.
Motsoaledi said 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.
Official figures show that South Africa has six million people living with HIV, in a population of 50 million. Last year, more than 260,000 people who lived with Aids died, which is nearly half the total number of all people who died of other causes in the country, BBC reported.