The HSRC released its findings of the SA National HIV Prevalence, Incidence and Behaviour Survey 2012, in Pretoria on Tuesday.
“The survey reveals that South Africans are not using protection when engaging in sexual activities; they are not faithful to their partners and their knowledge of sexual health is minimal,” YCLSA spokesman Khaya Xaba said.
The survey revealed that HIV-prevalence in the 15-49 year age group was 18.8 percent, but was significantly higher in females (23.2 percent) than in males (14.5 percent).
“This can be attributed to socio-economic issues in the sense that women cannot say no to men whom mostly they rely on for everyday necessities,” Xaba said.
Compared with 2008 data, there were trends for a decline in condom use in all age groups, except for the 50 years and older group, and an increase in multiple sexual partnerships among sexually active people aged 15 and older in 2012.
Xaba said the YCLSA had in past tried to emphasise that condom supply should always be supplemented with sexual health education and awareness.
“Some of the new infections are as a result of ignorance and mainly lack of relevant information,” said Xaba.
In a bid to reduce HIV infections, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi on Tuesday announced that free, coloured and flavoured condoms would be distributed, starting off in tertiary institutions from next month.
He said government’s free Choice branded condoms were not “cool” enough and new campaigns were needed to motivate the use of condoms.
The YCLSA welcomed Motsoaledi’s initiative but said more could be done.
“We note that more has been done to deal with the health of those who are infected, especially pregnant woman, but we have neglected those who are not infected,” said Xaba.
He explained that 2.4 million people were currently on government’s ARV programme and government intended to add another half a million people to the programme each year.
“Our efforts should also be focused on those who are HIV negative to stay negative,” he said.
He added that political leaders should use their election campaigns to encourage the youth to abstain, be faithful, or use condoms.