HIV prevention initiative seeks to break barriers in sub-Saharan Africa

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Ntokozo Zakwe went to a health facility to ask for information about safe sex when she was 19 years old but the negative response she received from a nurse discouraged her from going back.

Most girls and young women in South Africa who try to seek information on how to have safe sex are either shut down or discriminated against, Zakwe said. Such responses are a major barrier for those trying to make informed decisions about their sexual reproductive health, she added.

Perhaps this explains why despite the progress in the global response to curb the spread of HIV, adolescent girls and young women still account for 71 percent of new transmissions among adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa. South Africa alone records more than 100,000 new infections in young women between the age of 15 and 24 per year.

“For years, the global health community watched as the U.S. government spent more than a billion dollars — $1.4 billion, to be exact — on abstinence and fidelity programs that failed,” said Serra Sippel, president of Center for Health and Gender Equity, a nonprofit organization that promotes sexual reproductive health and rights for adolescent girls and women. “We cannot afford to lose the progress we’ve made in addressing the HIV epidemic globally. It’s pretty straight forward. We will not turn the tide on HIV without prioritizing women and girls.”

Source: Devex (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
public health, reproductive health