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Spotlight Series: HIV Stigma and Discrimination
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International News

South African Students Call for Better Nationwide Strategy in Battle Against HIV

July 30, 2002

Thousands of university students and teachers marched in South Africa Monday to call for better programs to combat HIV and for an end to the stigma attached to those infected with the virus. Bearing AIDS-awareness posters, the activists marched through various South African cities, asking young people everywhere to help check the disease's spread by being more responsible about sex and HIV prevention.

According to the Treatment Action Campaign, an AIDS activist group that helped organize the rallies, about 1,600 South Africans are newly infected with the virus each day. People ages 20 to 30 are particularly vulnerable. "If young people have the right attitude to sex, we can beat HIV/AIDS," said Grippa Khathide, the pastor for the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. "We can never begin to address the matter of HIV/AIDS unless we acknowledge that we are sexual beings. If we can change our attitude to one of sexual responsibility, we can protect ourselves and future generations."

An activist group at the university that distributes condoms to students and offers AIDS awareness workshops announced that HIV-testing kits would be available free to students. About 96 percent of high school students do not know their HIV status, according to a recent report. Another study suggests that most South Africans become sexually active at age 14. With more than 4.7 million people living with HIV, South Africa has the world's largest population infected with the virus.

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Adapted from:
Associated Press

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
More on HIV Prevention in South Africa