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16 Feb 2018

HIV programmes need to bring blessers onboard

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South African healthcare workers need to actively implement and support strategies that target people at risk and ‘blessers’ who are driving the HIV epidemic among young women.

“We need to focus on the ‘missing men’. They are known as the players, plyers, sugar daddies or blessers. They enter into relationships with young girls as a transaction: you give me unprotected sex and I give you money, a cell phone, airtime, new clothes, make up, school fees, a car, whatever you or your family might need.

Young women bear the brunt of the HIV pandemic in SA. Nearly a third of all new HIV infections in South Africa occur amongst 15-24-year-olds and adolescent girls are eight times more likely to be infected with HIV than their male counterparts. A recent HSRC study shows that almost a quarter of all new infections occur amongst young women aged 15-24.

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