THE Health Department plans to increase the condom budget because young men are having more protected sex.

THE Health Department plans to increase the condom budget because young men are having more protected sex.

This was revealed yesterday at the launch of the Third South African National HIV, Behaviour and Health Survey in Pretoria.

The report shows that South African men aged between 15 and 24 have more sexual partners than their female counterparts. The men are also using protection more than females.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said because of this there was now a higher demand for condoms and the department was considering increasing the budget for condoms.

In 2008 87,4percent of young males used condoms compared with 73,1percent of young females. Women were also more vulnerable to HIV because they had sexual relationships with older men for "wealth and material gain".

The report said the Free State had the highest number of people who had multiple sexual partners. In the 15 to 49 age group, people with multiple sexual partners had increased from 5,4percent in 2005 to 14,6percent last year.

The Human Sciences Research Council's Olive Shisana said: "The findings in the Free State might be because the province is closer to Lesotho, where there are a lot of miners. Eastern Cape, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal have shown a dramatic increase in condom use, which makes sense of why HIV among the youth in those provinces has decreased," the doctor said.

"There has been a large increase in HIV testing, which shows that messages on HIV testing and the availability of ARVs have encouraged people to test," she said.

Shisana said it was not all good news.

"The continued rise of HIV among adults in Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga shows that most people do not believe that one can get HIV by having multiple sexual partners.

"There is also a need for programmes to help people fall pregnant without risking HIV because there is no way of getting pregnant in South Africa without risking contracting HIV," Shisana said.

The report also stated that people who drink and use drugs with multiple partners are most at risk of contracting the disease.

At present there are 5,2million people with the disease in the country.

The government's HIV communication programme, Khomanani, aimed at reducing HIV, has failed to perform as expected.

Programmes such as Love Life, Soul City and Soul Buddyz did better.

Motsoaledi said he believed there was light at the end of the tunnel.

"I feel comforted by the findings, but we will look into the poor government communications. I believe that by working together, we can do more," Motsoaledi said.