WEDNESDAY 20th JULY 2016, DURBAN: The youth are among the most vulnerable members of our society, their voices are often drowned out and their needs, wants and protection is often not made a priority. We have spoken to the youth and those that work closely with young people across the country to find out what their demands are and how the South African government can ensure their protection.
During the 2016 International AIDS Conference 92 organisations and individuals signed the Youth Declaration demanding access to condoms in schools, youth friendly clinics and access to sanitary wear in schools.
Every week in South Africa over 2 500 young people acquire HIV – that is over 350 every day. According to a 2012 National Survey on HIV, 37.5% of learners reported having had sex, with 12.6% indicating that their first sexual encounter occurred before the age of 14. The use of condoms for people between the ages of 18 and 24 is on the decrease.
Clinics are currently not safe and friendly places for learners and young children. When they ask for condoms or HIV testing they yet reprimanded and are now choosing to stay away from clinics which is making them even more vulnerable.
Seven million girl learners are missing school every month due to the lack of access to sanitary wear, which means they miss out on 25 percent of learning during the school year. Girls are forced to use unhygienic substitutes to sanitary pads, newspaper, leaves or even sand, putting them at an even higher risk of infection.
Today we are demanding the Minister of Health, Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, accepts this declaration and treats these demands as a matter of urgency. If our government is being serious about finding an end to this epidemic our government must serious about our youth. We demand the implementation of these the simple steps that ensure that our youth are educated, protected and respected.
For more information, contact:
Ntombi-Zodwa Maphosa: 060 927 2026
Tina Power: 082 5747297