Over the past few weeks, media coverage has gravitated towards the potential follies of youth. This is unsurprising given that a new year means new beginnings for many young people still struggling to negotiate the dawn of adult independence.
However not all of this coverage has engaged with HIV where it could have.
The New Age and the Daily Sun highlighted HIV as it related to the Kwa-Zulu Natal Health MEC’s efforts at establishing a campaign to educate young women on the dangers of cross-generational sex or ‘sugar daddies’.
But Sunday’s (22 January) City Press featured a full page dedicated to the health risks of alcohol abuse among youngsters which was devoid of any mention of HIV.
Pre-teen pregnancy woes
HIV infection amongst pre-teens seems to be a cause for major concern with the release of the 2012- 2016 National Strategic Plan (NSP) which documented HIV prevalence amongst girls between the ages of 10 and 14 at approximately 9.1%. This is according to an article in the City Press.
According to NSP results, HIV prevalence amongst pregnant girls between the ages of 10 and 19 was also on the increase.
SA’s approach to ‘underage’ sex is two-faced
Today the Mail and Guardian’s Mia Malan gets to grips with the struggle on how to address teen pregnancy, which sees conservatives and human rights approach activists at loggerheads.
Malan explores the rift between the two parties, who advocate different means of addressing the twin troubles of soaring teen pregnancy rates and HIV infection.
The article has quotes from those who believe that sex education and life skills programmes should be strengthened in schools and that condoms should be made available.
However conservative elements located in the health and education departments fear that these measures would encourage youngsters to have sex. They are reportedly sticking to their ‘abstain’ or ‘be faithful’ guns as the best way to prevent unwanted pregnancy and HIV.
Articles on forced jabs choose sensation over information
Reports of contraceptive injections administered to girls as young as 10 at a primary school in Port Elizabeth, have raised a dull hum throughout the news media.
However reports leave questions around rape and HIV and HIV prevention in general unaddressed.
Sundry articles have also reported that girls at a Port Elizabeth primary school were given the contraceptive injections without their parents consent. The articles have also chosen to focus on the fact that the girls were told that the injections would prevent unwanted pregnancy if they were raped.
While shocking and sensational details such as these are common media fodder, they are often the sole focus, leaving other pertinent questions unaddressed. Specifically questions around whether or not messages about HIV prevention were communicated to the girls are left unconsidered.
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