History[ edit ] The myth was first reported in 16th-century Europe and gained prominence in 19th-century Victorian England as a cure for syphilis and gonorrhea among other sexually transmitted diseases. An earlier study in by sexual health educators in Gauteng reported that 32 percent of the survey participants believed the myth. The claim that the myth drives either HIV infection or child sexual abuse in Africa is disputed by researchers Rachel Jewkes and Helen Epstein,  as well as by research on convicted sex offenders in Malawi, where no evidence was found to support the idea that the virgin cleansing myth prompted any rapes. Other cultural factors, such as girls being married to older men, increase the likelihood of HIV transmission [ citation needed ].
BBC NEWS | Africa | Staging sex myths to save Zimbabwe's girls
But women's groups said Sunday, after this year's ceremony conducted two weeks ago, that the practice endangered the lives of the girls, as they would be the prime targets of men looking for safe, extra-marital sex. In this context, virginity testing becomes a harmful cultural practice," she complained. Girl Child Network Trust's position is that virginity should not be about the vagina, but the whole person; integrity, empowerment, decision-making, welfare, independent thinking and the whole body," she added. Abigail Gamanya, a director of the Federation of African Media Women in Zimbabwe, concurred, saying Chief Makoni was exposing the girls to sexual perverts, who might prey on them.
This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Southern Africa remains the region most severely affected by the epidemic. Women continue to bear the brunt of the epidemic with young women infected almost ten years earlier compared to their male counterparts.
Staging sex myths to save Zimbabwe's girls By Steve Vickers BBC News, Makoni, eastern Zimbabwe Cases of rape of young girls are on the increase in Zimbabwe Zimbabwe's most prominent organisation fighting child sexual abuse is confronting traditional healers to take action over the myth that having sex with a virgin can cure Aids - one reason behind the rape of young girls. In a rural area some km east of Harare, a play is being acted out. An HIV-positive man visits a traditional healer and is advised to have sex with a virgin in order to be cured. The reasoning is that the blood produced by raping a virgin will cleanse the virus from the infected person's blood. It is part of the Girl Child Network project and was staged at a girl's empowerment village, where rape survivors are given safe accommodation, counselling and training in life-skills.