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South African Health Minister Says 28 Percent Of Schoolgirls HIV Positive, Blames 'Sugar Daddies'

Mar 14, 2013 04:45 PM EDT
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Because of "sugar daddies," at least 28 percent of schoolgirls in South Africa are HIV positive while only 4 percent of boys meet the same fate, according to a report by South African news outlet Sowetan.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi indicated the percentage of HIV positive children is so heavily skewed towards girls because older men, not young boys, are sleeping with them.

"It is clear that it is not young boys who are sleeping with these girls. It is old men. We must take a stand against sugar daddies because they are destroying our children," Motsoaledi said, according to Sowetan.

The same report also indicated Motsoaledi said that across South Africa 94,000 school-aged girls became pregnant in 2011 and nearly 77,000 girls had abortions at public facilities.

Motsoaledi said some pregnant girls between the ages of 10 and 14 have tested HIV positive.

The BBC reported that more than 5 million people, about 10 percent of South Africa's whole population, is living with HIV.

Almost half the sum of all those who died in South Africa last year had AIDS, the BBC reported.

Motsoaledi said that the number of schoolgirls infected with HIV is a statistic that "destroyed my soul," the Sowetan reported.

Motsoaledi has been praised for his efforts to curb disease in South Africa. Since he began his role as health minister in 2009 the number of people receiving anti-retroviral medication has more than doubled from 678,500 to 1.5 million, the BBC reported, citing official statistics.

In 2011 Motsoaledi told the BBC that his department plans to provide Aids drugs to everyone who needs them by 2014.

Not everyone who is HIV-positive needs the drugs.

As part of the HIV prevention plan, South African health facilities provide free circumcisions, which health officials say reduces the risk of transmission by 60 percent.

The Gert Sibande district in Mpumalanga has the highest population infected with HIV. Motsoaledi said every man in the Gert Sibande district should be circumcised.

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