Time to reconsider committing to safe sex


Its World Aids Day and a good time to think about stopping the spread of sexually transmitted infections, specifically HIV. No matter your HIV status, always wrap up to protect yourself and your partner.

According to UNAIDS, South Africa has the largest HIV epidemic in the world. This country's population accounts for 19% of people living with HIV globally, 15% of new infections and 11% of AIDS-related deaths across the world. Despite this, condom manufacturer Durex reports just over half (54%) of those between the ages of 18 and 24 have had sex without protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) at least once.

So why do people still take the risk? "More than a quarter [of young people surveyed say they] would be embarrassed to be caught carrying a condom by a date. This highlights that safe sex is no longer part of the dating culture for the younger generation," Durex's 2017 Global Sex Survey reports.

Why not safe sex? Time to reconsider

In South Africa, 41% of those aged between 18 and 24 admit that they don't use condoms because they are in a trusted relationship, despite one tenth of respondents in relationships having another sexual partner. This leaves many vulnerable to contracting or spreading STIs, or ending up with an unplanned pregnancy.

Condoms are the only form of birth control that also protect against STIs. They form a barrier that prevents people from sharing body fluids and the viruses they may contain. But condoms don’t protect against STIs that are transmitted from skin-to-skin contact, like genital warts or pubic lice.

Unprotected sex isn't sexy

Most of us first learned about HIV and AIDS in school or at a work session. HIV education started the mid-1990s and we thought we knew three basics: people with HIV die early, HIV can be transmitted through sex and contact with body fluids, and there is no cure.

What we thought we knew was wrong. Medicine has advanced since then, and with the right treatment people with HIV can live long and healthy lives. The first step to protecting yourself is knowing your status. Screening tests are an important first step on your road to health. The sooner you detect problems, the sooner you can start working on getting better.

Commit to safe sex and regular screenings

If, after a screening test, you find that you have an infection – make use of the resources and support systems at your disposal to help you manage your risks and wellbeing. For example, Discovery Health Medical Scheme members who have HIV can join the HIVCare programme for comprehensive and confidential help to keep as healthy as possible.

W24. Safe sex and condom use viewed as 'unsexy' by GenZ - survey finds, W24, 1 December 2017; accessed 4 December 2017.

Jonisayi Maromo.#WorldAIDSDay: 'Safe sex not part of millennial dating culture', IOL, 1 December 2017; accessed 5 December 2017.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Condom fact sheet in brief; accessed 5 December 2017.

UNAIDS. Country: South Africa; accessed 5 December 2017.

Get the care you need in time by completing your preventive screenings

Members of Discovery Health Medical Scheme (DHMS) who are diagnosed with HIV have access to our care programme, HIVCare, for skilled assistance and clinically sound treatment. The programme includes cover for a list of medicine that prevents HIV from spreading from mother to child, as well as some baby formulas, for a period of 6 months, to help the baby grow big and strong.

And remember, all DHMS members on a Priority, Saver, Smart, Core or KeyCare plan can avoid a 20% co-payment simply by using use a Premier Plus GP to manage their condition.

Get confidential, cost-effective and clinically sound HIV care

Because members' health is important to us, members of Discovery Health Medical Scheme can go for a yearly basic health check without the cost affecting their day-to-day benefits or Medical Savings Account.

As part of the standard health check, you can find out your blood pressure, blood sugar, body mass index (BMI) and have a confidential HIV test. Remember that Vitality members can also earn Vitality points for completing a Vitality Health Check.

Learn more about the Vitality Health Check here.


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