SELEBI-PHIKWE: The mining town of Selebi-Phikwe continues to record a high rate of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) despite several interventions by government, it has been revealed.
On Tuesday, Samuel Kenaape, the District AIDS Coordinator here, said the town still had the highest number of people infected with STIs, despite government’s efforts to provide free education on the diseases.
Speaking at the District’s Commemoration of World AIDS Day, Kenaape said the town, which has a population of close to 49,000 people, had registered 1,157 STIs in the past three months.
“This figure is of concern,” he said, of the town in which a recent survey put the HIV prevalence at 27 percent or nearly one in three.
Kenaape disclosed that in the first quarter of the year, 4,167 people tested for HIV and these were mainly women. Even though the number is satisfactory, it is a concern that men are still not testing.
“Men are also lagging behind in taking ARVs. Currently Phikwe has 9,499 people on ARVs and of these, 6,334 are women and 3,465 are men.
“The majority of men default on the HIV/AIDS treatment, which is one of the reasons the prevalence is still high in Selebi- Phikwe,” he said.
Kenaape said although statistics showed that more women were infected with HIV in the town, this did not mean that men were not infected at the same rate.
“Men are still reluctant to go for HIV testing and some still have a tendency of depending on their partners’ HIV status,” he said.
“Men must stop this tendency and go for testing so that they get treatment quickly.”
Kenaape said there is also very low condom usage in the town, which contributes to the spread of STIs. Of the 2.8 million condoms, both male and female, which ere supposed to be issued to the public, only 3,015 had been collected thus far this year.
“We want to improve condom distribution among stakeholders in Selebi-Phikwe,” he said.
“When it comes to the use of condoms, women have shown that they do not use the female condom. Only 80 of these were collected this year.”
The District AIDS coordinator also noted that alcohol abuse, especially amongst teenagers, was another driving factor behind the high HIV and STI rates as the youth engage in risky sexual behaviour after consuming alcohol.
This behaviour was also contributing to the high incidence of teenage pregnancy, with 40 cases in the town presently.
“By 2019, we want to be a zero infection generation and we are intensifying HIV counselling and testing and also taking measures to reduce teenage pregnancy cases and the incidence of babies born with HIV,” he said.
For his part, Botshabelo Central councillor, Molefhe Molatlhegi, urged residents in the town to practice precaution and avoid spreading or contracting the virus. “We are going to different places during the festive season. Let us not go there to spread the virus,” he said.