HIV knowledge, risk perception and risk behaviour among male ex-offenders in Mpumalanga, South Africa
The aim of this study is to investigate HIV knowledge, beliefs and HIV risk behaviours among ex-offenders in Mpumalanga province, South Africa. A sample of 85 male ex-offenders conveniently selected from an exoffenders organization were interviewed with a structured and open-ended questionnaire. Results indicate good overall HIV knowledge but also significant misconceptions such as 45.9% believed that many sexual partners are needed to get HIV, 31.8% that there is a cure for AIDS and 25.9% believed that a pregnant woman cannot give HIV to their baby. The personal risk of getting HIV was rated as relatively low, with 8.2% already HIV infected. Almost all ex-offenders (91.2%) had been sexually active in the past 12 months. Various HIV risk behaviours were found, almost one in 5 had multiple sex partners, one in ten commercial sex and almost half lacked condom use and 56.5% had never had an HIV test. Linear regression analyses between HIV risk variables and HIV risk behaviour index controlled by demographic variables found no significant predictors. The study revealed that ex-offenders have high rates of unprotected sex, and limited exposure to effective HIV education and prevention interventions. Community organizations dealing with ex- offenders need to improve HIV training for officers working with exoffenders so that they can impart this knowledge to exoffenders and make HIV risk reduction programmes more available to ex- offenders.
Key words: HIV knowledge, HIV risk, HIV risk behaviour, ex-offenders, South Africa