Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced the plan on Tuesday when he presented his budget speech in Parliament.

“Next month, we shall launch a three-year campaign focusing on girls and young women in the age group of 15-24, and the men who are infecting and impregnating them,” he said.

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The wide-ranging plan would have five objectives, which include decreasing HIV infections in girls and young women, and decreasing teenage pregnancies.

Other objectives were decreasing sexual and gender-based violence, keeping girls in school until they matriculate, “and increasing economic opportunities for young women to try and wean them away from sugar daddies,” Motsoaledi said.

He added that the campaign should include all levels of government and society, and be led by young people.

The programme will cost R3 billion and be will be funded by PEPFAR, the Global Fund, the German Development Agency and government departments.

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The minister said dealing with HIV infections was an uphill battle when it came to socio-behavioural intervention, especially when dealing with 15-24-year-olds.

“In this age cohort, there are 5 000 new infections per week in 14 southern and eastern African countries, but half of these occur in South Africa alone,” he said.

The minister also announced a plan to remove CD4 count as an eligibility criterion for ARV treatment. This will come into effect by September.

This means the department would move to test and treat in line with the new guidelines released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) last year.

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The WHO recommended that ARV treatment be made available to all HIV-infected individuals, regardless of CD4 count.

The department would also provide pre-exposure prophylaxis to sex workers in 10 different programmes from June this year. These programmes would cost an additional R1 billion, which Treasury has made available.

-News24Wire 

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