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Combating HIV infections among African women

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    Combating HIV infections among African women
    By Africa Renewal
    By Kerry Cullinan, Durban, South Africa

    Schoolgirl Nomasonto Masango giggles as she lists the things she and her friends want boyfriends to buy them. “If you have an older boyfriend, he can buy you things and it is nice to show your friends that you have things,” says Nomasonto. The most prized items are cell phones, jewelry and fashionable clothes.

    Nomasonto is six times more likely to become infected with HIV from a man over the age of 24 than from a boy her own age, according to research conducted in Vulindlela, her semi-rural village in South Africa.

    In Southern Africa, the HIV statistics for young women are high. In Nomasonto's village, over half the young women aged between 20 and 24 are living with HIV, while less than a third of men the same age have HIV.

    Worldwide, a quarter of all new infections are of women aged between 15 and 24. The majority of these young women live in sub-Saharan Africa, where six out of every 10 people living with HIV are women. AIDS is still the biggest killer of women of child-bearing age in Africa...