loveLife Launches Campaign Promoting Sex Education for South Africa’s Teens
South Africa's loveLife campaign, a national initiative promoting sex education, AIDS awareness and outreach, plans to target the nation's teens with "powerful" new television advertisements and programs promoting local HIV/AIDS clinics, Reuters reports. The campaign's goal is to cut HIV infections in half among 15-20 year olds within five years by making clinics more "user friendly" for adolescents. Statistics collected by public clinics indicate that teenage girls account for the "greatest concentration" of HIV infections nationwide, with a "peak prevalence" between the ages of 24 and 25 years. The average onset of sexual activity in South Africa is 12 years old, compared to 17 or 17.5 years old internationally, according to Judy Fortuin of the loveLife campaign. About one-third of South African infants are born to women younger than 18 years old. In addition, the country has one of the highest rates of rape in the world, and myths remain that having sex with a virgin can "cure a man of AIDS," Reuters reports. These challenges are compounded by little or no sex education throughout the country. LoveLife campaign Medical Specialist Kim Dickson-Tetteh said, "Although young people start sexual activity at a very young age, they frequently lack knowledge of the functioning of their own bodies. They must not be scared of asking questions about sex and their sexuality." Fortuin added, "We have to delay the onset of sexual activity in the country. ... The answer to the HIV/AIDS epidemic lies with young South Africans" (Lovell, Reuters, 2/20).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.