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Reuters New Media
S. Africans badly need sex education, says minister

September 12, 2000
CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South African school children urgently need more sex education to prevent unwanted pregnancies and the spread of diseases including AIDS, Education Minister Kader Asmal said on Tuesday.

Asmal, admitting that HIV may cause AIDS but sticking to the much criticized government line that there was no absolute proof, said sex education had been neglected in schools for decades.

"We haven't taken seriously the value of sex education," he told a news conference, noting the prevalence of sexual encounters and booming pregnancies among girls under 13 years.

Teachers were now being trained to educate pupils about the value of safe sex in preventing unwanted babies and the transmission of sexually-transmitted diseases, including AIDS.

"HIV may cause AIDS," he said. "There are gay people who have moved from HIV to AIDS. There are also heterosexuals who are HIV positive and who develop AIDS."

President Thabo Mbeki has been criticized at home and abroad for refusing to state categorically that there is a direct link between HIV and AIDS. His critics charge that his ambivalent message is a green light for youths who dislike using condoms to discard them. Asmal said statistics showed the most vulnerable group in the country was between 15 and 24 years old.