Sexual Reproductive Month:

Deputy Health Minister and KZN Health MEC urge varsity students to keep their eye on the prize and not lose focus;
Parents urged to have open and frank discussions about sex in order to break the cycle of poverty, unplanned pregnancy and unwanted babies;
A person's appearance says nothing about their HIV status, says KZN Health MEC;

22 February 2022

YOUNG people across the province have been urged not to give in to peer pressure and the associated pitfalls of excessive partying and unprotected sex, as this will derail their academic progress, and thwart thwart escape from the yoke of poverty.

This emerged during a visit to the University of Zululand by Deputy Health Minister Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo and KZN Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane earlier today.

The month of February is designated for the promotion of Sexual Reproductive Health. In keeping with this, both health leaders appealed to youth from all corners of the Province to be single-minded in pursuit of their academic goals, and to practice safe sex at all times if they found it difficult to abstain.

Addressing a group of students, Dr Dhlomo said: "We want you to ask yourselves a few questions...including whether you may be the first graduate from your family? The answer may be yes. Ask yourself, what will I do to make sure I attain this dream for myself and my family? Do you know that when you graduate your family might, for the first time, have money for groceries and not have to rely on the social grant? Yes, when you graduate and find a job, their suffering will be in the past. It is that hope that must carry you through. And we are here to help you realise that dream."

Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane pleaded with students to adopt the mantra of "One condom, one round!" and never ever compromise.

She also urged parents to find ways to talk openly to their children about the dangers of unprotected sex - or face dire consequences.

"Yes, it's not an easy conversation at all, but it's a necessary conversation that we must have. Young women have a responsibility to take their lives into their own hands. Young men, too, have a responsibility to make sure that their own lives are protected. And when you're protected, you then protect the next person."

MEC Simelane also urged those who are entering into romantic relationships to remember that a person's "healthy" appearance says nothing about their HIV status.

"I always say to young men, do not look at your potential partner and decide based on their appearance whether they are HIV positive or not. Don't look at me, or at the guy who is propositioning you and assume that just because they appear in a particular way then you won't need to protect yourself from STIs. Condoms are meant to protect you from all sides. The discussion about reproductive health is for us all. We should continue to have these engagement."

MEC Simelane said the Department would continue to make its healthcare facilities more welcoming to young people; and will partner with various institutions of higher learning to promote responsible sexual behaviour.

ENDS Issued by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health

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