Exploring social media networks as an agent to encourage secondary abstinence and condom use to prevent HIV infection among black female students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College Campus.
Likoti, Palesa Grace.
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In South Africa, unprotected heterosexual intercourse is the leading cause of HIV/AIDS among the youth. An estimated 410 000 women from the age of 15 are living with HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS, 2016). This leaves the heavy burden of HIV/AIDS infections to be carried by women. The disproportionate number of females infected to that of men, calls for new and innovative preventative measures to be developed in order to protect women from HIV/AIDS infections and to allow them to be more in control when it comes to HIV/AIDS prevention. Additionally, the South African government together with non-governmental organisations, has developed strategies and campaigns with the purpose of educating the youth about HIV/AIDS and how to live healthier lives. Although approximately 49 per cent of new HIV/AIDS infections among the general population has decreased, there is still a call for new preventative measures to be implemented that put women at the forefront thereof (UNAIDS, 2016). The body of literature in this research investigates how social media has been used as a tool in disease prevention globally and its success. This research seeks to explore secondary abstinence and condom use among black females at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College Campus, through social media. Moreover, this study employed 12 in-depth interviews and used snowball sampling as well as convenient sampling as part of the data collection method. The study adopted a qualitative approach and the data collected was manually analysed, organised and transcribed. In addition to this, a thematic analysis was employed to make sense of the findings where themes were derived during the coding process (Bertrand, 2004b). Furthermore, the DOI Theory was employed to empower this study. The DOI Theory consists of 8 elements that were linked to the data in order to make sense of the findings. The findings of this study presented evidence that when designing HIV/AIDS prevention communication messages, it is imperative to consider an individual’s culture and how it plays a role in an individual’s descision-making process and their way of life. Moreover, the use of influencers is important in order to model good behaviour which can be diffused into a society with the objective of normalising it. The findings of this study presented eveidence that social media networks aimed at prwventinh HIV prevention among black female students at UKZN, Howard College campus may not have fulfilled their objective due to issues such as HIV stigma, male dominace and culture.