Pretoria – KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo has encouraged the youth to live a life free of HIV by making correct and responsible decisions in their lives.
“Government and parents have protected you for the first 20 years of your lives from getting HIV, it is now up to you to make correct and responsible decisions about your life,” Dhlomo said during a candlelight memorial held on Wednesday at Durban University of Technology.
“This you can do by ensuring that when you decide to enter into a relation at tertiary level you ask your partner to go with you and get tested for HIV,” he said.
The university had organized a candlelight memorial commemoration to remember those who have died from Aids, during a ceremony, students lit a candle to remember how Aids has touched their lives.
The ceremony was held ahead of the 28th International Aids Candlelight Memorial to be on Sunday, where people around the world will light a candle in memory of those who have lost their lives to Aids.
The candlelight memorial is used to support those living with HIV and affected by its impact, and to encourage calls to action for greater awareness.
This year’s event will be commemorated under the theme ‘Touching Lives’ to highlight how HIV has touched the lives of many people.
The theme also refers to how an improved HIV response with more treatment access, better prevention methods and respect for dignity touches the lives of people living with and affected by HIV.
Sharing figures with students, Dhlomo said almost 10 percent of female students who finish secondary education have been infected with HIV while only about 95 percent of their male peers are negative.
“As we conduct male medical circumcisions one of the screening tests that we request is an HIV test and we now know for sure that in the ages of 15 to 19 years boys are largely HIV negative, on the other hand, the province had around 190 016 in 2010 and 16 910 of these were by girls below the age of 18 years.”
He said that preventing older men from engaging in sexual relations with younger girls and ensuring that pregnant women, who are HIV positive attend clinic early so that they are put in the prevention of mother to child transmission programme, are among the challenges facing the department. – BuaNews