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More than one in four South African school girls infected with HIV

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 15th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Twenty-eight percent of South African schoolgirls have HIV. This statistic is especially alarming, considering that South African school boys report only a four percent infection. Health officials say that "sugar daddies," older men infected with HIV are tempted to have sex with virginal girls in the mistaken belief that it will cure them of the disease.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi claimed the statistic "destroyed his soul."

Statistics show 94,000 schoolgirls fell pregnant across the country in 2011 with 77,000 having abortions at public facilities. Motsoaledi says that many of the pregnant girls aged between 10 and 14 years of age - tested positive for HIV. 

"It is clear that it is not young boys who are sleeping with these girls," Motsoaledi, speaking at the National Council of Provinces Carolina, Mpumalanga, said. "It is old men. We must take a stand against sugar daddies because they are destroying our children."

Motsoaledi said the Gert Sibande district in Mpumalanga had the highest number of HIV-positive people. He said all the men living there should be circumcised to stop the spread of the disease.

"There is also a high number of TB infections ... there is a lot of death and a lot of illness here. It is for this reason that we chose the district to be one of the 11 in the country where the National Health Insurance program will be piloted."

According to South African's Human Sciences Research Council, roughly 10.9 per cent of all South Africans have HIV or Aids. The prevalence of infection is higher in women. An earlier study found that in KwaZulu-Natal province 37 per cent of pregnant women were found to be carrying the virus.

South Africa's rural Eastern Cape had girls as young as 12 who were being forced to "marry" older HIV-positive men because of the myth that having sex with a virgin will cure them of the disease.

Motsoaledi has called for an end to the trend of young girls becoming involved with older men.

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.

Official figures show that South Africa has six million people living with HIV, in a population of 50 million.

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