South Africa youths’ higher-risk sexual behaviour: an eco-developmental analysis

  • Monde Makiwane
  • Zitha Mokomane

Abstract

Despite their high levels of knowledge about HIV and AIDS, young people ages 15–24 years in South Africa remain disproportionately affected by the epidemic. Young people’s continued susceptibility to HIV infection has been consistently linked to intractable higher-risk sexual behaviours. This paper uses multivariate techniques and secondary data from two nationally representative surveys to illuminate individual and socio-structural factors that play a significant role in youths’ continued engagement in higher-risk behaviour, despite their high awareness about HIV and AIDS. The findings show that notwithstanding progress in terms of increased condom use and reduced incidence of other sexually transmitted infections, the average age of sexual debut remains low, multiple sexual partnerships are  prevalent, and inconsistent condom use is widespread among young  people. Factors significantly associated with these risk behaviours occur at the individual and structural levels and include issues of race, gender, poverty and susceptibility to peer pressure. The paper concludes by recommending that future HIV-prevention interventions in South Africa should aim at building resilience among youths by promoting affirmative, supportive interventions that emphasize the potentials of young people.

Keywords: attitudes; HIV/AIDS; HIV prevention; relationships; risk assessment; social ecology; social systems; socio-cultural factors; youth

African Journal of AIDS Research 2010, 9(1): 17–24

Author Biographies

Monde Makiwane
Child, Youth, Family and Social Development, Human Sciences Research Council, Private Bag X41, Pretoria 0001, South Africa
Zitha Mokomane
Child, Youth, Family and Social Development, Human Sciences Research Council, Private Bag X41, Pretoria 0001, South Africa
Section
Articles

Journal Identifiers


eISSN: 1608-5906
print ISSN: 1727-9445