first youth clinic opens
Changing the behaviour of the youth is essential to the prevention and treatment of HIV-Aids.
This is because children start experimenting sexually and embarking on risky behaviour at an early age, said experts at the opening of the first clinic for teenagers in Soweto on Thursday.
Kganya Motsha Adolescent Centre in Kliptown provides health services for children between the ages of 14 and 19.
An initiative of the Perinatal HIV-Aids Research Unit (PHRU) of the University of the Witwatersrand, the US Agency for International Development and the US President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar), it was hailed as a "one-stop shop" for teenagers.
It offers voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) for HIV, counselling on pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse, reproductive and mental health in a "youth-friendly and non-judgmental environment".
Leonard Letsoara of the community action group said the centre was a haven for the youth to get information and advice from their peers without being ill-treated.
"It is easier for teenagers to interact with people of the same age," said Letsoara.
He said a "lack of confidentiality and prejudice" from medical staff discouraged teenagers from getting help.
The clinic also has support groups for parents and those infected with HIV, said clinic manager Atholl Kleinhans.
Dr Rikash Jokhan of PHRU said it was important for parents to talk to their children about sex and warn them of the hazards of engaging in risky sexual behaviour, instead of leaving it to teachers.