An investigation into SA HIV status reveals that nearly a hundred thousand South African women and young girls are HIV positive every year, with over 2000 getting infected every week.
This is according to a report released by basic education deputy minister Enver Surty during a presentation of the department’s integrated policy on SA HIV status, Tuberculosis, and STIs in schools on Wednesday.
Surty was leading a delegation on the sidelines of the 8th SA Aids Conference at the Durban International Convention Centre.
He raised a call for a fight against the high spread of HIV/AIDS in the country, saying this should not be allowed to continue.
“A staggering 2‚000 girls and young women are newly infected with HIV every single week. Fifty-two weeks of the year — this is Ellis Park Stadium filled twice or Soccer City in Nasrec with every single seat taken plus [people] outside‚ or a capacity crowd at Moses Mabhida just down the road from here with an additional 35‚000 outside‚” said Surty.
Surty’s speech on SA HIV status follows a speech by the department’s Amanda Rozani who stated at the at the first presentation on the department’s integrated policy on HIV‚ TB and STIs in schools, that the new development is against the backdrop of the HIV prevalence in the country and that the country.
“SA HIV Status and TB constitutes a major management challenge in that it leads to negative health outcomes for educators‚ officials and learners. It also results in absenteeism‚ poor academic achievement and increased vulnerability among learners due to either being themselves infected or either caregivers or parents are infected‚” she said, adding that the policy was the first of its kind to address HIV and TB together.
As part of moves to fast-track the implementation of the policy, the department will make male and female condoms available pupils over the age of 12.
It will also facilitate access to condoms for all educators‚ school support staff and officials. This will also include information on the use of condoms.
“Management of the distribution process and mechanism for the storage and distribution of condoms will be informed by the local context of each institution‚” says the policy.
Surthy, however, described the department’s national policy as one of the most consulted to come out of any government department.
“It is now common knowledge that our youth bear the brunt of new HIV infections” said Surty, adding that the implementation of the new policy was the responsibility of all managers with the education and health system
The provision of male and female condoms and other forms of contraception‚ together with information on their use‚ will also be assured by the department in a “discreet‚ appropriate and accessible manner in the workplace”.
The report of the massive number of South Africans who are HIV positive follows an earlier report about the alarming rate at which South African teenagers get pregnant.
DA MP and basic education portfolio committee member Sonja Boshoff stated during a response to a parliamentary question on pre-teen pregnancies in primary school, that between 2014 and 2016 over 190 learners from Grade 3,4 and 5 fell pregnant.
The record is worse with pregnant learners from Grade 6 and 7, the number then rises to 1 449 primary school pregnancies in the same period.
The total school pregnancy statistics revealed that there has been a positive decrease from 2015 to 2016. In 2015 there were 15 504 pregnancies, whereas in 2016 there were only 8 732.
Although the overall numbers seem to indicate a drop in school pregnancies‚ the department was not able to provide the statistics for Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. Traditionally‚ these two provinces account for large numbers of school pregnancies‚ a total of 6‚477 in 2014 and 5‚178 in 2015 combined, Sonja Boshoff concluded saying.