Undercover Lover

Undercover Lover

In South Africa 90% of people under the age of 30 and more than 60% of those under the age of 40 describe themselves as being single which means they have no partner, they are not married, living together or in a steady relationship with someone. Being single does not mean that they do not have sex and there are many different types of sexual partnerships.

In South Africa there are high levels of condom usage associated with one night stands or casual sex as people understand that one night stands and sex without a condom increases their risk of HIV infection.

Multiple partnerships often means two or more lovers that happen over the same day, week or even month - one begins before the other terminates. The reason why HIV continues to spread is because of these 'multiple overlapping sexual partnerships'.

The main partner is often thought of as someone who is deserving of love, respect and care and who would be/is acceptable for marriage and to the extended family as an appropriate partner. Main partners are also called wife, girlfriend, husband and boyfriend or they may be referred to as the 'Regte' and 'Right One'. Many people do not see themselves at risk of HIV because the other lover is hidden and those that have other partners see themselves as faithful as long as the main partner does not find out about the others.

The 'other' partners are not one night stands; they are someone that they may have sex with over a period of time which can be for a couple of months to many years. The 'other' partners are also referred to as Makwapheni, Nyatsi and Roll-on as they are hidden, under the armpit.

Men and women may have 'other' sexual partners for many reasons. For example when one partner may move in search of work. In this instance both the partner that moves and the one that remains behind may take on another partner in the area in which they are working to avoid feeling lonely. Some people may have other partners in exchange for material goods or status, out of boredom, for ''good sex,' or to boost self-esteem.

A person may have has a main sex partner and second sex partner. It is probable that these sex partners have other sex partners too. This creates a 'sexual network' - like a computer network where everyone is connected to everyone else. The more partners involved, the bigger the network and the higher the risk of HIV infection.

Sexual networks are risky because the longer sexual relationships continue over time, the less likely it is that people will use condoms. If HIV comes to just one person in the network it can be passed in no time from one person to another in the network especially during the first six weeks after a person has been infected and there is large numbers of virus in the body.

About Scrutinize

Scrutinize is a public health campaign which encourages the Youth to "scrutinize" or understand their risk of HIV infection in relation to multiple concurrent partners, correct and consistent condom use, transactional sex (sex for money), intergenerational sex (sugar daddies) and alcohol use.

Scrutinize is a national campaign being undertaken by the JHU Program in South Africa and funded by USAID/PEPFAR.