On Special Assignment this Sunday at 21:30

HIV Infection rates among young people in South Africa continue to be alarming. Research shows that every week there are about 1 300 new infections among the youth. This is partly due to the phenomenon of sugar daddies- older men who seduce young women with promises of material and luxury goods and; who often infect these young women with HIV.

This week’s Special Assignment episode looks at an effective prevention option for HIV that, coupled with other measures, can significantly lower the trajectory of the HIV-epidemic. The government is planning to roll out PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) to two million students at university campuses across South Africa but, getting students started on it poses challenges because many do not want to test for their HIV status– being HIV negative is a prerequisite for the use of PrEP.   

In South Africa, pilot projects with PrEP began with vulnerable groups, such as sex workers. The uptake amongst this group has however, been very low. Sexual health and gender experts say that this is due to the stigma associated with the virus and the criminalisation of sex work. Another issue of concern is whether the state can afford a countrywide rollout given the already crippling cost of HIV-treatment on the health budget.

Can PrEP help reverse the on-going challenge of HIV in a country where gender-based violence, patriarchy and rape culture are rife and where the competing socio-economic needs of our country battle it out for a share of the budget?

Watch Prep: Stopping HIV?, produced by Frank Ferro, on Special Assignment, broadcast on Sundays at 21h30, SABC 3 and News Channel 404.

For more information contact Special Assignment: 011 714 5419

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