The eThekwini Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal says there has been an alarming rate of new HIV infections among girls and young women between 13 and 19-years old.

The municipality has launched a programme to help reduce the rate of HIV infections and sexually transmitted diseases.

Adding to the problem was the large number of people who stopped their HIV treatments when health services were disrupted by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chief Executive Officer of the Soul City Institute Phinah Kodisang says, “What we are seeing is what is always been there. Young people have always been vulnerable to HIV. I think from 2012 we’ve seen the number increasing between the ages 15 to 24 and we know that they were three times more likely, as young women, to be infected with HIV than their male counterparts. So, we are not seeing a new trend, I think the worrying thing is that right now is that everything is just coming together, HIV, GBV, all these ills are just culminating into a big big spiraling numbers.”

HIV prevention products are not reaching the people: Expert

Advocacy for the Prevention of HIV and AIDS (APHA) Co-founder Ntando Yola says there are options in terms of HIV prevention products, however, they are not reaching the people who need them.

According to UNAIDS, SA has the biggest and most high-profile HIV pandemic in the world, with an estimated 7.7 million people living with HIV in 2018.

The country accounts for a third of all new HIV infections in Southern Africa. In 2018, there were 240 000 new HIV infections and 71 000 South Africans died from AIDS-related illnesses.

South Africa also has the world’s largest antiretroviral treatment programme.

Speaking to SABC News, Yola says there is a range of challenges that the country faces and these challenges are in the midst of a number of opportunities.

“Let’s talk about HIV prevention, it is agreed upon that in order for us or for any country in the world to be able to have effective HIV prevention interventions it has to be looked at through a range of approaches. We have got to have bio-medical interventions; we have got to have behavioural interventions as well as structural interventions. These interventions have to speak to each other. What are these interventions? Bio-medical in terms of HIV prevention, we have a lot of products that are available in order for us to be able to prevent infections and there are a lot of breakthroughs that have taken place in terms of providing us with HIV prevention that should really be scaled up.”

In an interview three months ago, President and CEO of the non-governmental organisation mothers2mothers,  Frank Bradley de Palomo, discusses the new UNAIDS report: