Women, HIV and AIDS : perceptions of the female condom among students on UKZN Howard College campus.
Ogunlela, Temitope Olukunle.
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Unprotected heterosexual intercourse is the major cause of the transmission of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS); however people still engage in unsafe sexual practices. Much research has therefore focused on preventive approaches and barrier methods to combat HIV and AIDS. Global HIV and AIDS statistics show that women are worst affected, leading researchers and non-governmental organizations to design interventions and programs to prevent HIV infection among women. Female condoms, also known as femidom, are effective and safe in preventing HIV if used consistently. The cost of the first generation female condom, FC1 led to slow uptake, resulting in the production of the more cost-effective second generation female condom, FC2. However, studies show that the FC2 is underutilized for a number of reasons beyond cost, including availability, reduced sexual pleasure, gender inequality and culture. There is a paucity of literature on perceptions of the female condom (Callender, 2012). This study sought to address this gap by accessing perceptions of the female condom among students on the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN)’s Howard College campus. This research study adopted an interpretive paradigm and employed mixed methods of research, both quantitative and qualitative. The population/participants were drawn from male and female students at UKZN who reside in two residences on the Howard College campus, namely, John Bews and Pius Langa. A non-probability snow ball sampling method was used to select a sample frame of 124 students comprising both female and male students. Questionnaires and focus group were used to gather data; a total of 100 questionnaires were administered and a focus group was conducted with eight participants in three separate sessions. The qualitative data gathered were analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS), which generated simple frequencies and percentages. The quantitative data was transcribed and analyzed through thematic analysis with the help of the NVivo10 qualitative data analysis package. Thematic analysis developed by Braun & Clarke (2006) was employed to create categories and emerging themes that were derived from the coding process. Paulo Freire’s participatory development paradigm and the empowerment theory provided the conceptual framework within which the research is located. This enabled an exploration of how participatory approaches like focus group discussions create opportunities for participation. Kieffer’s (1984) four stages of empowerment guided the data analysis within the framework of empowerment theory. The study found that male students are more supportive of female condoms than female students. It also revealed that female students do not feel empowered by female condoms; this is as due to inadequate information and insufficient promotion of female condoms. Furthermore, the findings revealed that the most common source of information about female condoms among students was friends, followed by the clinic. Media and billboards had minimal effect in providing information and awareness on the female condom. Students feel that culture does not influence condom (male or female) use; this could suggest a positive future for femidom use in South Africa.