A qualitative assessment of HIV risky behaviours among male students who have sex with other men : a case study of university students in Durban.
Gumindega, Geogina Charity.
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Although unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) has a higher chance of HIV transmission than unprotected vaginal intercourse, research suggests that risk taking behaviours are regarded as a key driver of the AIDS epidemic among men having sex with men. Risky behaviours include unprotected anal intercourse, transactional sex, forced sex, and use of alcohol before sex etc. The aim of this study was to explore HIV risky behaviours and risk perception among male students who have sex with other men. The qualitative data considered in this study came from 15 in-depth interviews with male students who self-reported to be having sex with other men. The findings of this study showed that MSM perceive themselves to be at risk for HIV contraction. Awareness of the main routes of HIV transmission is high among the men. Their perception of HIV risk also exists because HIV has affected them through the loss of close family members. While they use condoms with casual partners, MSM engage in unprotected anal intercourse with their regular or primary partners. The study also points to the existence of sexual violence among MSM whereby some individuals have been manipulated into having sex with someone despite their unwillingness to do so. The study also revealed that MSM are not open about their homosexuality with family, health care workers and most importantly with their female partners although they use condoms as the main form of protection in their sexual encounters with female partners. Due to perceived homophobic attitudes of health care workers, the majority of participants did not know their partners’ HIV status as they tested separately. There also exist limitations to practising safe sex which included limited access to lubricants and condoms due to the cost. This study recommends that there is need for campus health care workers to build trust within the university campus society by arranging separate testing services for students so that they can also feel comfortable with accessing health care services.