TEENAGE girls are more likely to be HIV-positive than boys in the same age group!
Researchers have yet to find out why girls are still more vulnerable to HIV than boys.
However, it is believed young girls tend to have sex very early – and with older men.
Last month, deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, chairman of the South African National Aids Council, called on sugar daddies and blessers to stop dating young girls.
According to the 2012 South African National HIV Prevalence, Incidence and Behaviour Survey, more needs to be done to challenge society’s acceptance of sugar daddy and blessers’ relationships, as they are associated with financial gain.
“It is necessary to ensure young women are empowered and have access to education and employment to break the cycle of poverty,” read the survey.
Researcher Sintha Chiumia said the survey tested more than 3 000 teenagers between the ages on 15 and 19 for HIV.
It was discovered that 5,6% of the young girls were estimated to be HIV-positive, compared with 0,7% of boys in the same age group.
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Professor Olive Shisana, deputy chairwoman of the International Aids Conference, told Africa Check, a non-profit organisation that promotes accuracy in public debate and the media, that the higher prevalence among 15 to 19-year-old girls is the result of young girls having sex at an earlier age than boys in the same age group.
She said: “The tendency in South Africa is for young women to have sex with men at least five years older, whose chances of being HIV-positive are higher.
“One can see it in the fact that HIV prevalence among men aged between 20 and 24 was an estimated 5,1%, which was closer to the prevalence among the girls aged between 15 and 19.”
Although the results of the research will be released at the International Aids Conference next week, research director at the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute, Professor Sinead Delany-Moretlwe, told Africa Check that young girls are affected by immature genital tracts.