An investigation into factors contributing to sexual behaviours among adolescents in rural KwaZulu-Natal.
Shoba, Dumisani W.
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This study investigated the factors contributing to sexual behaviours and the extent of rural adolescent’s involvement in risky sexual behaviour. A quantitative research design was used based on the Theory of Planned Behaviour which informed the questionnaire to be used. Participants comprised of 60 adolescents, 16-19 years old, who were recruited from a rural school in eThekwini Metro, KwaZulu–Natal province, in South Africa. Data was collected using a self-administered questionnaire developed and adapted by the researcher. This questionnaire comprised of questions regarding socio-demographic issues, adolescent knowledge of HIV and AIDS, communication (with partner, friends and parents), self-efficacy in relationships, consequences of unprotected sex, perceptions regarding future risks of HIV/AIDS, STIs, and pregnancy, as well as various questions pertaining to sexual activity including use of condoms. The Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS 13) was used for the data analysis. Frequencies were calculated for each item. Chi-square analysis was conducted to determine the association between demographic variables of gender and age and the items related to HIV transmission that showed some variation on the response categories. Independent samples T-tests were conducted in order to explore whether significant differences occurred in the mean scores for the two groups male and female including younger and older age groups and various continuous variables. The study revealed that the majority of adolescents have a high level of knowledge regarding HIV. The adolescents also seemed to have high level of self-efficacy regarding the use of condoms, which is a good foundation for the prevention of teenage pregnancies and HIV infection. The findings also indicate that family disorganization, lack of communication between adolescent and their parents, and poor access to health information are some of the factors influencing adolescent sexual behaviour. Even though adolescent knowledge about HIV, and skills involving communication with friends and partners and condom use were found to be good, peer influence, gender-role expectations, norms and values still influences the engagement by adolescents in unsafe sexual activities. The study also revealed that issues like lack of access to health information still remain a challenge to most adolescents, which needs urgent attention from health authorities. The results of this study indicate a need for the department of health to revisit some of their programmes and strategies to deal with issues identified by this study as weaknesses, as most of the current health programmes are aimed at increasing knowledge and self-efficacy. It is also recommended that health programmes aimed at peers norms, values and cultures be implemented in order to positively influence adolescents’ sexual behaviours. The majority of adolescents (75%) indicated that they are using condoms when having sexual intercourse with their partners, while others showed positive attitude towards condom use and indicated intention to continue engaging in safer sex. These findings can be attributed to multi-sectoral interventions, especially interventions by the National Department of Health and Education as well as other Agencies.