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To use or not to use : mediators of condom use amongst students in heterosexual sexual relationships.

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Any form of sexual interaction contains risk, for example the risk of pregnancy and/or STI transmission. There are a range of measures that can be used to prevent the above mentioned risks, namely contraceptive practices. However, condom use is the best method to prevent all risks related to sex. Although South Africa has the highest number of people living with HIV (Shisana et al., 2009), it has been found that the HIV prevalence is low amongst students in comparison to nationwide statistics (HEAIDS, 2010). Additionally condom use amongst students at last sex is reportedly high (HEAIDS, 2010). However there are many reasons why students in particular do not engage in protective sexual practices such as condom use. The question that guided this research study was what motivates students to engage or not engage in condom use? The study explored dynamics of condom use amongst heterosexual students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg. This qualitative study used Hollway (1984) and Willig’s (1995) discourses to examine the ways in which men and women relate to each other in engaging in sex, relationships and protective sexual practices. Information was gathered using two focus groups (one female and one male group) and five individual interviews. Students saw the risks related to pregnancy and HIV differently which impacted on their preferred method of contraceptive use and the ways in which they viewed condom use. Students seem to draw on Hollway’s (1984) “male sexual drive discourse” and “have/hold discourse”, and Willig’s (1995) “marital discourse”, to position themselves with regards to each other and their sexual activities. This suggests a need to redirect health promotion strategies.


Condom use--KwaZulu-Natal., College students--Sexual behaviour--KwaZulu-Natal., Theses--Psychology.