The dangers of holiday sex
Prevent frivolous holiday sex that can lead to bitter regrets for your teens.
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There’s nothing like a holiday and some let-your-hair down partying to wash away the strain of a year’s hard slog at the books. But, the alcohol and drug-infused casual sex encounters that often characterise holiday partying can lead to bitter regrets and life-altering consequences, says Ndinatsei Mumbengegwi, spokesperson for the Marie Stopes Blue Light Campaign.

Only 36% of SA teens use condoms when having sex

“There is a direct link between alcohol use and HIV infection in South Africa, largely because people are more likely to behave in ways they usually wouldn’t and engage in risky sex when their inhibitions are reduced by alcohol.”

“Sadly, it is young women who are at the greatest risk of being infected with HIV. HIV infection prevalence is almost four times higher in women than men in the 15 to 24 age group.”

“But girls, remember that HIV isn’t the only risk associated with casual, unprotected sex. There are unwanted pregnancies and other sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea, genital herpes, and syphilis to worry about. Never think that it can’t happen to you because it can.”

Rising rates of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections amongst South Africa’s youth point to poor understanding of what constitutes risky sex and an apathetic attitude towards using condoms.

According to Mumbengegwi, data from a continuing survey by Marie Stopes International and other NGOs such as the German Foundation for World Population and the International Planned Parenthood Federation, suggest that only 36% of South Africa’s teenagers use condoms as contraception.

“It seems that there is peer pressure to be sexually active amongst our young people. Ideally, you should delay having sex until you’re older but, if you haven’t or you don’t, it is sensible, and your right, to insist on taking precautions to protect yourself.

“Infections spread when one person’s bodily fluids are transferred into another person’s body. Practicing safe sex means that you won’t get another person’s blood, semen, vaginal fluids, breast milk or other bodily discharges in your body, thus protecting you against a range of infections. It can also help prevent an unwanted pregnancy,” urges Mumbengegwi.

She concludes with this advice for young women:

Use a condom every time you have sex. Dual protection is advised for both men and women, which means using condoms and contraceptives (you can find out more about female condoms at any Marie Stopes Centre).

Limit the number of sexual partners you have. Ideally, you should have sex only with one person, and they should only have sex with you.

If possible, learn the sexual history of your partner, including how many partners they’ve had, and whether they’ve ever tested positive for an STI, such as HIV, herpes, hepatitis B or hepatitis C. You deserve to know whether you’re facing any risks.

Go for HIV counselling and testing with your partner. Know your status, and your partner’s status, before engaging in sexual activity.

Marie Stopes’ Blue Light Campaign was created to empower young people to understand their sexual health better and is designed to assist you in finding out more about all things sex related including information about contraceptives, STI testing and syndromic management, HIV testing and counselling. Young people can also get free sexual health advice and solutions through the Marie Stopes call center on 0800 11 77 85
For more information visit www.mariestopes.org.za/bluelight.

Would your teen tell you if he or she is having sex?
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