If more than 7 million South Africans are HIV Positive, and globally 39% of new HIV infections are among those aged 15-24, do we really know enough about HIV prevention or is it our casual attitude toward the infection that’s fueling the high infection rate among our peers?
The truth is, we don’t think it’ll ever happen to us, but if we’re not careful it could. HIV doesn’t discriminate. It can affect any of us, regardless of our background or status.
If we look at the numbers, the youth are the most vulnerable to HIV and AIDS. The overall number of AIDS-related deaths between 2005 and 2012 decreased by 30% for all ages except among adolescents, who experienced a 50% increase in that same period.
Young girls are especially vulnerable. Each year about 380 000 new HIV infections occur in young women aged 16 to 24 years in southern and eastern Africa.
HIV also affects young men and it remains the single largest cause of years of life lost among adolescent boys and men of reproductive age in southern and eastern Africa.
No one should feel stigmatised because they are HIV Positive. HIV is manageable. It is not a death sentence. But, as the saying goes, ‘prevention is better than cure’. Know your status, use condoms correctly and consistently, and limit your number of sexual partners. Voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) has also been proven to reduce a man’s lifetime risk of HIV by up to 60%, and offers other benefits: it helps to prevent other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and it lowers the risk of penile cancer. Female partners of circumcised males also benefit as it reduces a man’s chance of acquiring the human papillomavirus (HPV) and passing it onto his female partner (HPV causes cervical cancer in women).
If we are not capable of breaking the current trajectory within the next few years, the ideal of an AIDS-free generation in the near future simply won’t be possible. It starts with us…
To book for a free circumcision or to find out more about the procedure, men can send their full name to 35255 and a trained VMMC counsellor will call them back.
If you want to read up more about what they are doing and how to prevent HIV, you can check out their Facebook page.