Knowledge, attitudes and sexual behaviours regarding HIV/AIDS among adolescents at a rural secondary school in the Eastern Cape.
AIDS is a syndrome that affects millions of South Africans. Adolescents have been regarded as a potential high-risk group with regard to HIV infection due to their increased sexual activity. Changing behaviour, even that of adolescents, who are just beginning to experience and experiment with their sexuality is perhaps the biggest challenge facing HIV / AIDS prevention in South Africa. There is an urgent need for more knowledge and information on adolescent sexuality, and their knowledge of and attitudes towards HIV / AIDS that can impact intervention programmes. The aim of this research was to examine knowledge, attitudes and behaviours regarding HIV / AIDS among adolescents at a rural Junior Secondary School in the Eastern Cape. The study used both qualitative and quantitative methodology. The participants were grade 7 to 9 learners at the school; 46 males, and 74 females (n=120). The research instrument used was an anonymous self-report questionnaire. Data on behavior was gathered through 9 open-ended questions. Findings revealed that adolescents had higher-level knowledge about AIDS although there were also misconceptions. Their attitudes were both negative and positive. Data on reported behaviours revealed that most learners have changed their behaviours, 90% reported that they would use a condom to prevent the spread of the disease and, they indicated that a person should have one partner. It is recommended that a programme be developed to educate adolescents about sexuality in an objective and factual manner. Outsiders, not necessarily teachers should be used to implement such programmes, and the programmes should be adaptable to any circumstances, as not all schools have the facilities to their disposal like videos and films.