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.
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.
Second-trimester abortions, which occur between the beginning of the 13th and the end of the 20th week of pregnancy, are difficult to access in the public sector. This is mainly due to the lack of designated abortion facilities and the unavailability of abortion providers to provide the service and the Eastern Cape is no exception, writes Sibusisiwe Ndlela, Khanyisa Mapipa, and Thokozile Mtsolongo.
Women and girls seeking abortions are often forced to seek informal, illegal, and unsafe abortions as a result of various systemic barriers. Khanyisa Mapipa, Sibusisiwe Ndlela, and Thokozile Mtsolongo look at the state of abortion services in the public sector in the Eastern Cape.
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.
Professor Lynette Denny of the University of Cape Town recently received the Order of the Baobab, the country’s highest accolade for citizen excellence. Bienne Huisman spoke to her about her ground-breaking research in cervical cancer prevention, her own ongoing struggle with cancer, and the enrichment she has found in being of service.
In 2014, South Africa launched an HPV vaccination campaign targeting 9-year-old public school learners in Grade 4. It involves delivering two doses of vaccine six months apart. Laura Owings asks how the campaign is going and what recent real-world HPV vaccine effectiveness data from the United Kingdom might mean for South Africa.
Since the enactment of the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act (CTOP Act) in 1996, there has been a significant disconnect between the official policy on safe abortion and its implementation. The situation has worsened with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and access to abortion services is now severely limited, write Boitumelo Masipa and Thembi Mahlathi.
The new national clinical guidelines for the implementation of the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act serve as an opportunity to strengthen services in providing much-needed clarity and guidance to health workers. Marion Stevens and Nozizwe Conco unpack these guidelines on International Safe Abortion Day.
As we commemorate yet another Women’s Month, we are reminded of the many initiatives that have come and gone in an attempt to address the extreme period poverty that continues to plague South African women and girls. It is time to solve this issue once and for all, and to make sanitary towels and menstrual hygiene products free and readily available, writes René Sparks.
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.