Understanding sexual risk amongst teenage mothers within the context of the HIV and AIDS pandemic.
HIV and AIDS is still a major problem especially in Sub Saharan Africa. The levels of new infections are still relatively high which implies that the numerous national and international efforts to curb the transmission of HIV are not having the desired effect. Furthermore, the accelerated rate of teenage pregnancy is also indicative of the failure of these efforts. The high teenage pregnancy rate suggests that many teenagers do not practise safe sex. This could be attributed to the many pressures teenagers experience regarding sex and sexuality. Teenage mothers are likely to experience the same or double, the pressure and I was curious to understand their stance on unsafe sex practises especially after having a baby. This research study elicits an understanding of how these young mothers construct, present and negotiate their sexuality within the context of the HIV and AIDS pandemic. Issues of sex and sexuality in relation to gender roles, gender identities, constructions of sexuality and teenage motherhood were investigated. The findings reveal two key points: regret inspires determination to succeed and that love and romance are dominant discourses in the construction of sexual risk among teenage mothers within the context of the HIV and AIDS pandemic. All the teenage mothers in this research study indicated that completion of their studies should have taken priority to motherhood. Even though most of the participants in this study acknowledge that love and romance are essential, they are now more cautious and either abstains from sex or practise safe sex. This research study has found that the hardship and responsibilities associated with motherhood have served to motivate these participants to change their risky sexual behaviour and verifies Burr’s (2003) social constructionist perspective by showing how identity is fluid and context dependent, relying on social interactions and experiences.