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Risky sexual behaviours of students : a case study of students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.

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This dissertation investigates risky sexual behaviours of university students, with particular reference to students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), Howard College and Westville campuses. The research approach used was predominantly qualitative where data collection was mainly through in-depth interviews and focus group discussions (FGDs). Interviews were conducted with 20 students. 10 participants were from Howard College campus and another 10 participants were from Westville campus. FGDs were administered to two groups which consisted of approximately four to six students in each campus. According to the literature, there are numerous studies on the prevalence of risky sexual behaviours, however, the reasons why people engage in risky sexual behaviours was not well explored. Therefore, there was a need for conducting this particular study which aimed to shed insights into risky sexual behaviours of university students. This study also explored perceptions of HIV risks and other factors that motivated students to engage in risky sexual behaviours as well as examined the possible opportunities and constraints for changing risky sexual activities. This study was guided by the model of unsafe sexual behaviour designed by Eaton, Flisher and Aaro (2002) which is used widely to explain risky sexual behaviours in the context of HIV/AIDS. It identifies three factors that influence behaviour including the personal, proximal and distal context. The findings revealed that as much as the students were aware of HIV/AIDS transmission and prevention methods, they were still those who engaged in risky sexual behaviours, including having multiple sexual partners, engaging in sexual intercourse without the use of condoms, intergenerational relationships, sexual intercourse under the influence of alcohol and transactional sex. Furthermore, the study indicates that socio-economic challenges, peer pressure, and lack of communication through educational campaigns and programmes are the main factors which hinder university students from changing their sexual behaviours. Therefore, the study recommends that there should be more research conducted on students’ risky sexual behaviours, in order to collect more relevant information, which will assist policy makers, government, and other stakeholders to create a coordinated effort in addressing risky sexual behaviour of university students.


Master of Social Science in Development Studies. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2017.