Conversations with young people about sex can lead to safer sexual behaviour, like delayed sexual debut, the use of condoms and other contraceptives, and having fewer concurrent sexual partners but we need to give learners and young people clear and reliable information so that they can make informed choices relating to their health, writes Julia Chaskalson.
In an open letter to young women in South Africa, Faith Fikizolo reminds us that meaningful comprehensive sex education is an important lever in ensuring girls and young women are fully empowered to exercise their sexual and reproductive health rights. She argues that, due to the lack of meaningful sexuality education, many South African young women and girls lack bodily autonomy.
In Spotlight’s analysis of South Africa’s HIV response in recent years, two issues have stood out consistently – still too many people living with HIV are not taking antiretroviral therapy and the rate of new HIV infections in South Africa is not coming down fast enough. Accordingly, argues Spotlight editor Marcus Low, we must accelerate the shift toward an HIV response where we make testing for HIV and taking antiretroviral treatment as convenient as possible.
HIV prevention pills are becoming more widely available in South Africa and the country is set to soon start piloting the use of an HIV prevention injection. But merely having these tools available in clinics and other places does not mean people will use them. Thabo Molelekwa asked several experts what behaviour change communications should look like in this new era of HIV prevention.
The right to abortion has been catapulted into the spotlight by Dobbs v Jackson, the landmark judgment of the United States Supreme Court that overturned Roe v Wade – a 50-year-old precedent of that court that first recognised the constitutional right to abortion in the US. The recognition of a right to abortion is often the first step towards creating an enabling environment for women to access abortions but in some countries in East and Southern Africa, argue the authors, Dobbs may put brakes on little sparks of hope that emerged in recent years.
Special youth clinics appear to be an effective means of providing healthcare services to young people who otherwise might not engage with healthcare services. But is building more youth clinics realistic given our resource constraints, or is it better to focus on making ‘normal’ clinics more youth-friendly – or should we be looking beyond clinic-based healthcare services altogether? Tiyese Jeranji investigates.
During her recent budget speech Eastern Cape Health MEC Nkhosazana Meth expressed concern over the number of teenage pregnancies in the province. Health activists are calling for a comprehensive plan to address this, while adolescents interviewed by Spotlight say they need more education on sex and HIV prevention methods. Luvuyo Mehlwana reports.
Even though the rate of new HIV infections in young women and adolescent girls remains stubbornly high, provision and uptake of pills that can prevent HIV infection have generally been slow and lagging. One potential solution presented at the recent Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections is to provide the pills at schools. Tiyese Jeranji reports.
There are a variety of tools available today to prevent pregnancy including pills, intrauterine devices, subdermal implants, injections, condoms, male and female sterilisation, and emergency contraception. Statistics suggest that people in South Africa do, in principle at least, have access to and are aware of these contraceptive methods, albeit not at the desired levels. Elna Schütz looks at what contraceptive methods are available and makes some surprising discoveries along the way about which ones are most popular.
“Driving a fast car”; “getting the top three letters”; or “playing the lotto” – nearly 40 years from when HIV was first described, the virus is still a thing of euphemism and stigma. It’s also still infecting at least 4 000 people a day around the world, most of them young people, especially girls and young women. Ufrieda Ho reports.
Findings of a clinic monitoring report released last week, again highlighted how delivery of health services in the Eastern Cape are hamstrung by staff and medicine shortages. Luvuyo Mehlwana unpacks the data and the provincial health department’s plans to address the challenges identified in the report.
The ongoing stockouts of contraceptives grossly violate individuals’ and couples’ reproductive rights but alternative measures have not been put in place. If the issues of access to contraceptives are not dealt with, the country will face a baby boom and a rise in HIV infections at the end of the current pandemic writes Thuthukile Mbatha and Annah Maluleke.