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Official: At Least 28% of South African Schoolgirls Infected With HIV Because of "Sugar Daddies"

Update Date: Mar 15, 2013 10:26 AM EDT
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At least 28 percent of schoolgirls in South Africa are infected with HIV, while only 4 percent of boys suffer the same fate, because they are being exploited by "sugar daddies," Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has said.

Motsoaledi said government statistics suggest that the number of HIV positive is heavily skewed toward girls because older men, not young boys, are sleeping with them, according to South African newspaper The Sowetan.

"It is clear that it is not young boys who are sleeping with these girls. It is old men. We must take a stand against sugar daddies because they are destroying our children," Motsoaledi said Wednesday at the National Council of Provinces Carolina, according to The Sowetan.

Motsoaledi said the latest statistics have "destroyed his soul" and demanded that action be taken against "sugar daddies" targeting young girls.

Motsoaledi said official statistics revealed that 94,000 schoolgirls also became pregnant in 2011, and 77,000 had abortions at public facilities, adding that some pregnant girls between the ages of 10 and 14 have tested HIV positive.

Official statistics reveal about 10 percent or 5 million South Africans are living with HIV, and almost half of people who died in South African in 2012 had AIDS, according to the BBC.

Since Motsoaledi began his role as health minister in 2009, the number of HIV patients receiving anti-retroviral medication has more than doubled from 678,500 to 1.5 million. According to the BBC, South Africa's former President Thabo Mbeki, who questioned the link between HIV and AIDS, had said that the government could not afford to give treatment to all South Africans who needed it.

Motsoaledi, who has been widely praised for his efforts to curb HIV in South Africa since he took office, said that Gert Sibande district in Mpumalanga had the highest number of HIV-positive people, and advises that all men living there be circumcised to stop the spread of the disease.

"There is also a high number of TB infections ... there is a lot of death and a lot of illness here," Motsoaledi said, according to the Daily Mail.

"It is for this reason that we chose the district to be one of the 11 in the country where the National Health Insurance program will be piloted," he added.

A 2012 investigation revealed that girls as young as 12 in South African's rural Eastern Cape were being forced to "marry" older HIV-positive men because the men believed that having sex with a virgin will cure them of the disease. 

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