An investigation of the perceived vulnerability towards HIV/AIDS infection in a sample of health science students.
The socioeconomic and physiological burdens associated with HIV / AIDS have historically been treated through a biomedical focus. This study aims to shift away from this traditional analytical lens and take into consideration the plethora of psychological, social and economic factors that play an influential role in influencing individuals' perceived vulnerability to HIV infection. A purposive sample of six health science students from the University of KwaZulu-Natal were interviewed with the intention of exploring the dynamics that inform their perceived vulnerability towards HIV infection within both their social and occupational settings. Through an inductive approach to analysing the semi-structured in-depth interviews, it was found that certain key variables within their occupational and their social settings informed their perceived vulnerability to contracting HIV. More specifically, themes that emerged in relation to the individual and interpersonal levels (such as universal precautions, sexual behaviour, intrinsic factors and gender differences), and community and societal levels (such as culture, religion and race) were seen to be important determinants of perceived vulnerability towards HIV infection.