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28 Percent Of South African Schoolgirls Have HIV Because Of 'Sugar Daddies,' Health Minister Says

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This picture, taken on July 23, 2012, in Durban, South Africa, shows a giant billboard highlighting the dangers for young women to have sex with older men. In South Africa, an increase in teenage pregnancies in eastern KwaZulu-Natal was blamed on older men seeking out younger women. The provincial government has set up 89 huge billboards to highlight the dangers of sex with older men, while creating support groups for young women to resist such relationships. | Rajesh Jantilal, AFP / Getty Images

South Africa's Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said Wednesday that at least 28 percent of South African schoolgirls have HIV because of "sugar daddies."

Speaking at an event called "Taking Parliament to the people," the health minister revealed new statistics that show only 4 percent of boys have the virus.

Motsoaledi also said 94,000 South African girls became pregnant in 2011, and that 77,000 had abortions, according to South African daily 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 stressed at the event, held at Silobela Stadium in the rural town of Carolina, about 150 miles east of Johannesburg.

In recent years, Motsoaledi has made numerous public appearances urging South Africans to get tested for the virus, and has led nation-wide testing campaigns to diagnose men and women alike.

The Telegraph notes that South Africa has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world, with official reports saying more than 8 percent of the population is infected with the virus.

However, in recent years, the number of AIDS-related deaths has plummeted, falling by nearly 25 percent between 2005 and 2010, according to the Actuarial Society of South Africa.

The dropoff is due, in part, to South Africa's large-scale program of anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs, which consumes about 25 percent of the world's supply of ARVs.

South Africa is currently in the process of switching to a single-dose treatment for those infected with HIV. The government has touted the new program as simpler and significantly cheaper than the three-pill-per-day regimen South African HIV patients used in the past.

(Hat tip, BBC)

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