SCI puts focus on Young Women and Alcohol

Growing usage of alcohol by young women between the ages of 15 – 24 has resulted in high sexual risk and increased HIV infection, according to researchers who addressed a media briefing hosted by the Soul City Institute for Health and Development Communication today.

Soul City Institute commissioned a literature review on “Alcohol in the context of HIV among young women in South Africa” which was conducted by Dr. Leane Ramsoomar.

Dr. Ramsoomar joined Thoko Budaza, Eastern Cape Provincial Manager at Soul City Institute, at the briefing moderated by Soul City Institute senior advocacy manager Savera Kalideen.

Dr. Ramsoomar said globally and nationally, women drink less than men but they are harmed both by their own drinking and that of men.

“Women’s exposure to HIV via alcohol use includes several factors such as increased vulnerability to HIV, sex work, gender-based violence abuse and transactional sex.” said Dr. Ramsoomar.

Interventions that need to be adopted include developing integrated alcohol-sexual risk reduction policies, responsible beverage service and effective implementation of education policies that keep girls in school. There is also a need to engage men in activities that foster respect for women, and their reproductive health and other rights.

Furthermore education and employment opportunities need to create a situation wherein more women gain control over educational choices and economic income in the home.

Recounting experiences of young women in rural areas Budaza acknowledged that women sometimes resort to alcohol use and misuses a form of entertainment, given the lack of alternative recreational spaces available.

She also called on authorities to take issues of alcohol abuse seriously. “Alcohol addiction is not viewed as seriously as other drugs, we know that women drink. We need the spaces that they drink in to be safer for them,” added Budaza.

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