KZN Health MEC's Valentine's Day Message

  • Cupid's arrow could leave you with an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy or sexually-transmitted infection if you're not careful; and
  • It's not "lit" to have a "spare-wheel" partner...rather abstain, be faithful and condomise

14 February 2023

As the spirit of love continues to swirl, with starry-eyed lovebirds preparing to go out on Valentine's dates where they'll profess their undying love for each other - possibly followed by certain acts of passion - KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane says a cautious approach is needed, so that there are no regrets in future.

And, in the midst of a rising rate of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections in the Province, the MEC is warning people about the dangers of having a "spare-wheel" (extra partner), and that if they don't use protection, they run the risk of acquiring and spreading infections such as HIV, syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, and human papillomavirus (HPV).

MEC Simelane is also urging lovers across the Province to remember that short-lived "fun" could have serious, life-long consequences.

"Our main plea as the Department of Health is that, if we're having a good time, let's do so in a guarded and responsible manner. Let's consider protection.

"We need to do the same on Valentine's Day... If someone is going to bring you flowers and take you out on a date, as a woman, make sure you have condoms in your bag. And men must do the same.

"Carrying protection is the responsibility of everyone, men and women. But if we're going to get carried away, and get lost in the spirit of Valentine's Day, and do things without protecting ourselves... there are many Sexually-Transmitted Infections out there. And research shows us that the number of people presenting with Sexually Transmitted Infections is rising. In order for us to remain safe and to reduce those numbers in the Province, let's protect ourselves.

So, we're saying, let people enjoy themselves on Valentine's Day, but do so having protected themselves..."

MEC Simelane reiterated the time-honoured mantra of the "A-B-Cs" (Abstain, Be faithful, and Condomise) when it comes to managing sexual relations.

"Abstinence is still the best and safest approach. But also the importance of being faithful can never be over-emphasised... We know that you may appear to the "lit", or popular if you have a "spare wheel." But the reality is that if you're not faithful, you run a risk of bringing yourself and your loved ones illness.

If you feel you're ready to have sex, then condomise. Infections in the country and in our province are high - which tells you that the number of people not protecting themselves has increased."

According to 2021 figures from Statistics South Africa, the total number of people living with HIV countrywide is estimated at approximately 8,2 million. The Province of KwaZulu-Natal accounts for 2,02 million or 18,23 % of that, which is the highest.

Among people aged 15 - 49 years, an estimated 19,5% of the population is HIV positive, with about 1 300 adolescent girls and young women said to be getting infected with HIV in the country every week.

Furthermore, official records from the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health reveal that between January and October 2022:

  • Out of 727 466 women between the ages of 15 to 24 who got tested for HIV in KwaZulu-Natal, 15 665 tested positive. Although this amounted to a positivity rate of 2%, is was still considered too high;
  • At least 15 girls aged between 10 and 14 were found to have STIs during this period;
  • A further 322 girls aged between 15 and 19 also tested positive for STIs.
  • An additional 702 women between the ages of 20 and 24 were found to have STIs.
  • Within the same period, a total of 6 417 pregnant women tested positive for syphilis (a potentially life-threatening disease that can cause premature delivery; severe damage to the heart, brain or other organs.) This was already higher than the 4 147 women who tested positive for syphilis during the whole 2021/22 financial year.

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health is due to have a dialogue with its counterparts in the Department of Education, on the best approaches to reduce the rate of teenage pregnancy and sexually-transmitted infections among young people. Further details on this will be disseminated at the appropriate time.

Issued by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health

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This page last edited on 11 July, 2023

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