The percentage of young girls between 14 and 24 years has increased from 2012 to 2017. This is according to a study by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC).

The study shows that in 2012, 8.2% of girls between the ages of 14 and 24 reported having multiple partners, the number grew to 9% in 2017. Boys in the same age group over the same time period reported a 12% decrease in those who had multiple partners.

The study shows an increase in the number of girls who started having sex before increase from 5% in 2012 to 7.6% in 2018. The number also increased for boys who had a 2,9 increase to 13.6%.

HIV prevalence was found to be three times higher among females between the ages of 20 to 24 in 2017. Despite this overall HIV incidence in the reproductive age group dropped significantly in 2017 by 42%. The biggest decline in incidence was among females.

South Africa now has 7.9 million people living with HIV, an increase from 7.2 million in 2012. Prof. Khangelani Zuma from the HSRC says the increase must be understood in context.

“It could be due to two factors – people living longer because they are on Anti-Retroviral Treatment. So people are no longer dying, which is a good thing. The bad side is that people are continuing to get infected with HIV,” says Zuma.

He says that it is also concerning that only 62% of those living with HIV are on treatment. He urged everyone, particularly the younger generation, to do more to fight HIV infection.

A third of all infections in 2013 came from the 15 to 24 year age group. Use of condoms was found to have also not grown in 2017 from 2012 among the females.

There was a 0.2% increase in condom use among males in the same period but condom use in both sexes is significantly lower than in 2008.