04 Dec 2017

MYTHBUSTING ON WORLD AIDS DAY

Members of the Sex Rights Africa Network gathered in Durban for the 1st December commemoration of World AIDS Day to brainstorm creative ways to break down barriers to HIV treatment and promote prevention. Discussion focused on the parallel epidemics of gender-based violence, unplanned teen pregnancy and HIV. It was noted that despite ongoing media campaigns and progressive policies, myths still abound in relation to GBV, pregnancy and HIV.

The Sex Rights Africa Network, represented by AIDS Foundation of South Africa, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Department of Education, Gateway Health Institute, HEARD (Health, Economics and Research Department, UKZN), Youth for Christ and Inanda FM, resolved to myth-bust in order to ensure the public know their rights. Here is a start.

Six Sex Myths debunked

Myth 1: Pregnant girls are prohibited from attending school.
A Department of Education representative confirmed that denying any learner access to education because of pregnancy is illegal.

Myth 2: Wearing two condoms is safer than one.
An AIDS Foundation South Africa staffer clarified that only one condom should be used at a time. Wearing two or more at the same time would cause both to tear, leaving you open to HIV transmission.

Myth 3: You have to report rape to the police in order to access health services
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation explained that the Sexual Offences Amendment Act of 2007 defines ‘reporting’ as reporting to either the police or a healthcare facility that you’ve been raped, at which point you will be tested for HIV, STIs and pregnancy and offered medication including the morning-after pill, antibiotics to treat STIs and a short course of anti-retroviral medication to prevent HIV transmission (post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP). Health policy was recently amended to make PEP available to anyone experiencing condom failure as well. If you believe you may have been exposed to HIV, report to a clinic and ask for PEP – it’s your right.

Myth 4: Urinating after sex prevents HIV transmission
This is NOT true at all. Only condoms or abstinence can prevent HIV transmission.

Myth 5: Having sex standing up prevents pregnancy.
100% false. You can become pregnant, contract HIV and STIs regardless of sex position.

Myth 6: Offering condoms and sex education in schools promotes promiscuity.
Not only is this false, it is also contrary to the recently announced Department of Education National Policy of HIV, TB and STIs. This policy requires information and condoms to be available to learners, even without school governing body approval.

For more information about sexual and reproductive health and rights in South Africa visit www.sexrightsafrica.net, Twitter @SexRightsAfrica, or Facebook @aidshealth.org