South Africa’s Department of Basic Education (DBE) is considering distributing condoms to primary and secondary schools as part of the government’s move to curb the prevalence of HIV, but there are mixed reactions over the proposal.
The public have been given 21 days to respond to the proposal, which forms part of the integral Draft National policy on HIV, STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and tuberculosis (TB).
DBE spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga told Xinhua on Monday that they put forward the proposal taking into consideration that a lot of learners are HIV infected.
Statistics from the Human Science Research Council of South Africa (HSRCSA) show that HIV prevalence of the youth aged between 15 to 24 has declined from 10.3 percent in 2005 to 7.3 percent in 2012.
With over 400,000 new HIV infections occurring in 2012, South Africa ranked first in HIV incidence in the world, says a HSRCSA survey.
If the proposal gets the nod from the public, pupils as young as 10 will be given condoms at their schools.
The SA Council of Churches (SACC) is outraged by the proposal which it says sends a wrong signal to young children.
“It is vital for the government to address the issue of HIV and Aids among the pupils by educating children about sexuality issues but not by distributing condoms,” said André Bartlett of SACC.His assertion was supported by Bishop Titus Gumede in Pretoria.
Gumede said condom distribution would not solve the problem of high HIV and Aids prevalence cases in South Africa.
Matebogo Mampani, a training and development specialist at Soulcity, an organisation that works with communities on prevention of HIV infections, said lack of adequate and relevant HIV awareness messages targeted at young girls is to blame for the high HIV prevalence among learners. — Xinhua.