Delegates at Aids conference differ sharply
Messages about HIV infection can often be contradictory.
A government spokesman at the consultation conference on the draft of the HIV and Aids and STI Strategic Plan for South Africa 2007-11, held in Ekurhuleni yesterday, said that HIV infections among young people aged 15 to 24 had stabilised.
This was in sharp contrast to a statement by the South African Union of Students last Friday that stated that at least 60percent of students in tertiary institutions were HIV-positive. These figures were presented by the student union at the launch of an HIV-Aids programme for tertiary students last week.
Nomonde Xundu, head of the government's HIV-Aids programme, said at the conference yesterday that 5,3million people were HIV-positive.
The percentage of women aged 20-29 who were HIV-positive was six times that of men in the same age group, he said. Women and youth accounted for 90 percent of all recent infections.
Dr Kgosi Letlape, chairman of the South African Medical Association, differed with these statistics.
Letlape said "men were vectors [carriers] of HIV" and government should understand that.
"The only reason why women are seen as being prone to the virus is because they go for HIV tests while men stay at home. If we were to start testing men the statistics would be different.
"What we need to do is to rehabilitate men. Men don't need to be educated about HIV because they know about it. If we intend to win the fight against this pandemic we have to start by changing men's mindsets about having multiple partners," Letlape said.
The South African Mens' Association agreed.
"Once we start rehabilitating boys not to follow what their fathers and grandfathers did, the fight against HIV-Aids would not be a losing battle," a spokesman said.