The Department of Higher Education’s HIV/AIDS Programme Director, Dr Ramneek Ahluwalia, says young people between the ages of 15- 24 remain at high risk of contracting HIV/Aids.
Speaking to SABC Digital News, Ahluwalia says young people in institutions of higher education are especially vulnerable.
“When they go to college or universities, the bound freedom is gained and parental control gone. So multiple partnerships, drugs and alcohol, the issues of transactional sex, prostitution, the number of young girls being exploited becomes much higher and I think that is where the epidemic focuses itself in the universities and colleges.”
Ahluwalia says the number of new HIV cases every day in the country is a cause for concern.
“South Africa is very unfortunate as a nation with 1 000 new cases every day. As you and I are speaking, thousands of South Africans by today itself according to an average rate, become HIV positive. It has also been proven that the first incident when the virus enters the body is between the ages of 15 to 24 because that is the age of the bound freedom; the age when people are vulnerable; a young girl at that age is exploited by an older man who brings the virus into her.”
Click below to listen to Dr Ramneek Ahluwalia:
The Treatment and Action Campaign’s Community Advocate, Tshweu Mosedi, says peer pressure is another issue that leads to young people contracting the virus.
“Young people still refuse to use condoms, still refuse to participate in activities that will enhance their knowledge and that will keep them from doing bad things. They refuse to change their ways when it comes to influencing others to participate in risky sexual behaviour.”
Mosedi also attributes religion and culture as other causes of the spread of HIV.
“I think culture and religion still play a major role because there are still parents who do not want to participate in activities where sex and HIV will be one of the topics, ignorance and denial plays a major role in the spread of HIV.”