Young gay men are turning to porn for sex education

Where will young men who have sex with men (YMSM) be getting their sexual education from this summer?

Did you know that every hour 50 young people (aged between 15 and 24) are infected with HIV in eastern and southern Africa? Or that globally, over the past decade, the number of adolescents dying due to AIDS-related illnesses has tripled – despite decreasing among all other age groups?

Have you heard that AIDS is now the number one cause of death among young people in Africa and the second leading cause of death among adolescents worldwide?

“The saddest thing about these statistics is that they can be prevented through appropriate education on sex, HIV and AIDS and where to go to get help,” says Riaan Norval, Project Manager for Young Heroes, a campaign of Anova Health Institute.

“This is particularly true for YMSM who are at highest risk of HIV acquisition, yet for whom targeted prevention interventions are largely non-existent,” he adds.

This campaign is spearheading the Young Heroes programme aimed at empowering YMSM to make safer sex choices.

“While sexual education currently falls under the Life Orientation curriculum in South African schools, studies have shown that several factors stand in the way of this being effective,” notes Norval.

“These include teachers believing that teaching and talking about sex and sexuality will encourage learners to have sex, the refusal of some teachers to discuss homosexuality on cultural and religious grounds, preference amongst teachers for abstinence-only education and the curriculum itself being heteronormative. As a result, many YMSM turn to pornography and their peers for their sexual education – sources which do little to promote HIV prevention.”

Poster for a recent roadshow

South Africa is unfortunately not alone in the lack of sex education in schools. A study in the UK revealed that nearly half of YMSM turned to pornography to learn about gay sex – seeing that 82% of them received no education about it in school. A number of respondents admitted that they engaged in unsafe or risky practices after watching porn.

Young Heroes was launched to address this gap in sexual education and awareness and equip young men with psychosocial tools and support for better health outcomes while they are in their teens and more importantly as adults.

Young Heroes provides young men with information on how to protect themselves and their partners from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, safe spaces, access to resources and a supportive community through its social media, website and mobile platforms. It also ensures that YMSM have access to healthcare services that support sexual and mental health should they need it.

“In a country with the biggest HIV epidemic in the world7, we cannot afford for our young people not to be armed with the necessary information to save their lives,” says Norval,

To learn more, visit the Young Heroes website and follow the Young Heroes YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *