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New HIV Infections Climb Among Young Women in South Africa

Among the people socializing in a tavern in Alexandra township in Johannesburg is Karabo Sathekge, who asked that VOA not give her real name. She is a slight, attractive 19-year-old in a veil of an orange dress, defying the winter chill.

Sathekge often meets one of her partners here. He is more than twice her age.

Sathekge explains that sex with older men is sometimes "rough," and always without a condom.

South Africa has almost 7 million people living with HIV and manages the globe's largest antiretroviral program, keeping about 4 million people alive with the drugs. At the South African National AIDS Conference in Durban this week, specialists voiced their concern about the spiking rates of infections among young women, a trend reflected throughout the continent.

"What does it tell you about the lack of knowledge about HIV, 20, 30 years into the HIV epidemic?" said Mark Heywood, the director of the Section 27 social justice movement. "We have seen, shockingly, a decline in knowledge of HIV amongst young people. It is like we have taken our foot off the accelerator, in certain respects."

Heywood says more than 200 young women, ages 15 to 24, are infected with HIV each day in South Africa.

 
Concord Newsdesk

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