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South African Govt Aims to Protect Young Women from Sugar Daddies

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Thursday, May 12th, 2016
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Pretoria — The Department of Health is launching a campaign that focuses on protecting girls and young women from the many social ills that affect their health and overall wellbeing.

The three-year campaign will address HIV infection and pregnancy, including the phenomenon of sugar daddies, who are commonly referred to as “blessers” in pop lingo. The campaign’s efforts will also be directed at the men who are part of this social problem.

Health Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, announced the R3 billion campaign during his department’s 2016/17 Budget Vote on Tuesday in Parliament.

The campaign is made possible by funding from PEPFAR [United States President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief], the Global Fund, German Development Agency and government departments. It will be launched in June.

Minister Motsoaledi said young women who face the most risk on the socio-behavioural front are those in the 15-24 age group.

“Their chances of getting HIV are eight times more than the boys of the same age group because of various factors, and we are launching this programme to try and target them,” said the Minister.

The campaign will have five objectives, including:

  • Decreasing infections in girls and young women;
  • Decreasing teenage pregnancy;
  • Decreasing sexual and gender-based violence;
  • Keeping girls in school until matric; and
  • Increasing economic opportunities for young women to try and keep them away from sugar daddies.

“This campaign must include the whole of government and society, led by young people,” Minister Motsoaledi said during a media briefing after tabling the Budget Vote.

In addition, the department has already screened 500 000 school children for physical barriers to learning and administered the HPV [human papilloma virus] vaccine to 600 000 school girls.

CD4 count no longer eligibility criterion for ARV

The Minister said as from September this year, the CD4 count was removed as an eligibility criterion for antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.

“Today we announce: test and treat. No more CD4 count. We shall move to test a patient and treat them, in line with the new guidelines released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in December last year,” he said.

The department will from June provide PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) to sex workers in 10 sex worker programmes.

The Minister welcomed the R4.2 billion grant from the Global Fund to support South Africa’s HIV and TB responses.

“Since the screening campaign was launched on World TB Day on 24 March 2015 by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, we have successfully screened thousands of people in the vulnerable sectors of Correctional Services, mining and peri-mining communities. This year, we are focusing on eight metros with the aim to screen 1.3 million people,” said Minister Motsoaledi.

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