About Brothers for Life

There's a new man in South Africa

Brothers for Life Take on the Risks of Multiple Sexual Partnerships in New Television Advertisement

A man lovingly bids his family goodbye, but then he picks up a young woman and gives her a pair of beautiful shoes – only to be approached by a group of Brothers for Life, who remind him of the risks he is about to take …

“Being with different women may seem harmless, but it puts you and your loved ones at risk of HIV,” says one of the men to him.

This is the latest television advertisement to be flighted by Brothers for Life, the men’s campaign that draws upon the spirit of brotherhood that exists among South African men and encourages them to positively influence each other as men, partners, and parents and as leaders. The advertisement will be broadcast on SABC and e.tv from 1 February.

The advertisement coincides with Sexual and Reproductive Health Month, as well as STI Condom Week from 14 February. The easiest ways to reduce transmission of HIV and STIs are to reduce the number of one’s partners, or to use condoms every time with every partner.

“One of the fundamental tenets of being a Brother for Life is choosing one partner over multiple chances with HIV. A critical element of the campaign is to address the risks associated with having multiple and concurrent partnerships, particularly when it comes to HIV/AIDS,” says Bob Phato, head of the Men’s Sector of the South African National AIDS Council (Sanac).

According to the 2009 National Communication Survey on HIV/AIDS (NCS), the results of which have been made public in the past week, multiple sexual partnerships are more prevalent among men than women.

“Heartening indications in the NCS results are that condom usage is high, particularly among young people, and that men and women on average have 2.8% fewer partners than the 2006 NCS found, but it is clear that the main drivers of the HIV/AIDS epidemic are multiple and concurrent partnerships,” says Brothers for Life project manager Mandla Ndlovu.

“This is exactly why the new Brothers for Life advertisement is so important: we hope to influence men, and get men to influence other men, to cut down on the number of sexual partners they have.”

An area of major concern, says Desmond Lesejane, deputy director of Sonke Gender Justice, is the significant correlation between heavy drinking (defined as four or more alcoholic drinks in one sitting for women, and five for men) in nightclubs, bars and shebeens, and having multiple partners – and that 68% of men and 56% of women believe it is easier to have sex with people who frequent nightclubs, bars and shebeens.

“Most men and women of all ages believe that when they are drunk, neither they nor their partners will care about HIV. Given that there is a connection between multiple partnerships and heavy drinking, this is startling – and brings to the fore another Brothers for Life tenet: being a Brother means making no excuses for unprotected sex, even after drinking,” says Lesejane.

On a lighter note, the NCS findings also revealed that people in stable relationships have more sex than those having casual relationships. Thirty-nine percent of married people, 51% of those living together and 20% of those in partnerships report having sex two to three times per week or more, as opposed to only 10% of those who have known each other for a while and 13% of those who have just met.