The effects of gender and socioeconomic status on youth sexual-risk norms: evidence from a poor urban community in South Africa

  • Michael Rogan
  • Michaela Hynie
  • Marisa Casale
  • Stephanie Nixon
  • Sarah Flicker
  • Geoff Jobson
  • Suraya Dawad

Abstract

HIV and AIDS remains one of the most serious problems facing youths in many sub-Saharan African countries. Among young people in South Africa, gender is linked with a number of HIV-risk behaviours and outcomes. The literature suggests that factors such as socioeconomic status, intimate partner violence, and several psychosocial factors contribute to gendered differences in sexual behaviour among youths in South Africa. However, the existing body of literature scarcely addresses the interaction between gender, confounding factors (particularly peer norms) and sexual behaviour outcomes. This study uses a survey design (n = 809) to examine how gender and socioeconomic status moderate the effects of norms and attitudes on higher-risk sexual behaviours among secondary school learners in a low-income community in South Africa. The findings suggest that gender interacts significantly with peer norms to predict sexual behaviour. Peer norms and the experience of intimate partner violence were significantly associated with sexual risk behaviour among girls participating in the study. The article discusses both the wider implications of these findings and the implications for school-based and peer-facilitated HIV interventions.

Keywords: behaviour change, HIV/AIDS, prevention, sexual behaviour, sexual health, social cognitive models of health, youths

African Journal of AIDS Research 2010, 9(4): 355–366

Author Biographies

Michael Rogan
University of KwaZulu-Natal, Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division (HEARD), Westville Campus, J Block/Level 4, Durban 4001, South Africa
Michaela Hynie
York University, Department of Psychology, Behavioural Sciences Building, Room 101 BSB, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3, Canada
Marisa Casale
University of KwaZulu-Natal, Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division (HEARD), Westville Campus, J Block/Level 4, Durban 4001, South Africa
Stephanie Nixon
University of Toronto, Department of Physical Therapy, 160–500 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M6G 1V7, Canada
Sarah Flicker
York University, Faculty of Environment Studies, Room 109 HNES, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3, Canada
Geoff Jobson
University of KwaZulu-Natal, Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division (HEARD), Westville Campus, J Block/Level 4, Durban 4001, South Africa
Suraya Dawad
University of KwaZulu-Natal, Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division (HEARD), Westville Campus, J Block/Level 4, Durban 4001, South Africa
Section
Articles

Journal Identifiers


eISSN: 1608-5906
print ISSN: 1727-9445