Sexual risks amongst young African schoolgirls 16-17 in the context of HIV and AIDS.
Nyawose, Busisiwe Miriam.
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This study addresses the problem of sexual risk-taking among young African girls aged 16 turning 17 years of age and factors influencing these risky sexual behaviours. The main question that arises from this problem is: How do young African schoolgirls construct sexual risks in their social context? The purpose of this study therefore was to explore how young African schoolgirls construct sexual risk in the context of HIV and AIDS in one high school in the Pinetown district of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The research context was one high school in the densely populated township of KwaNdengezi in Pinetown district, Durban. The study comprised of 8 female participants in the 16-17 year age groups. In order to find out which factors influence young African girls’ sexual behaviours, a qualitative research design based on socio-constructionist theory was used. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews. Results of this study showed that the majority of young girls were knowledgeable about HIV and AIDS; they knew how it is transmitted, and they knew that involving themselves sexually is dangerous, which is why most of them had not done so. Some girls preserved their virginity, a good way of delaying early sexual debut. The young girls also had knowledge about preventative measures. The results also indicated that factors influencing young girls’ sexual risk behaviours included, among others, partying at night, fear of their partners, culture, gender inequalities and – mostly – alcohol intake. They also revealed that there is a lack of support about sexual issues from parents, community and the Government. This study revealed that young African school girls involve themselves in risky sexual behaviours, and experience a lack of support from parents, the community and the Government – agencies which the young girls feel can be instrumental in helping them to change their sexual behaviours. From all of this it is concluded that there is a need for further research among young African girls aged 16 turning 17 years.