Prevention/Safer Sex/ANC
African Eye News Service, 17 October 2002, Safe Sex Message Has Little Effect in Mpumalanga

By Steven Ntuli

Mainstream safe sex campaigns are failing to make an impact on Mpumalanga youth and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/Aids are therefore still spreading unchecked, the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) warns.

ANCYL provincial spokesman Victor Nkwalase said many youth still appeared ignorant of exactly what HIV/Aids was, and appeared unconvinced of the benefits of safe sex.

This is despite widely publicised government research indicating that 29,2% of pregnant women in Mpumalanga are HIV positive. The province has the fourth highest HIV figures in South Africa.

"It is very difficult to understand. The message is getting out, but it appears that youths simply don't want to use condoms. They don't appear to have the necessary discipline and are endangering everyone they encounter," said Nkwalase.

The ANCYL's provincial executive is therefore encouraging all party leaders in the province to voluntarily and regularly test themselves for HIV.

"If you know your status, you can protect those you love. Most of the executive has already tested, including acting chairman Mthandazo Ngobeni.

No one is revealing their results, but at least we know for ourselves," said Nkwalase.

"This is an example of how to live responsibly, and we are urging all other ANC and youth league members to follow our leadership and also test."

Recognising that not everyone is able to abstain from sex, Nkwalase added that the ANCYL was also urging the use of condoms.

"This is not a new message. Government, churches and our elders have all being saying the same thing for years. Now, us as youth leaders are agreeing publicly that we should all condomise if we have sex," said Nkwalase.

The ANCYL is meanwhile looking into the possible causes for the reportedly low infection rates in white South Africans.

Some research indicates that HIV infection rates amongst whites may be as low as 5%.

"We will look into this to see is there is not perhaps something we could learn to help fight HIV/Aids in the rest of our population," he said. - African Eye News Service.