Trends and determinants of sexual behaviour in Western Cape, South Africa: a study of young adults transitioning to adulthood using the Cape area panel study.
The transition to adulthood is a significant period in the lives of many young people throughout the world. HIV/AIDS continues to attract much attention from researchers as it is a matter of particular concern for young people. Recent data suggests that the HIV prevalence among females aged 15-24 in South Africa is 12.7%, and 4% among males. Increasingly there has been a major outcry especially among international donor agencies that despite widespread HIV/AIDS campaigns in South Africa behaviour change has not been realised. Given the fact that in South Africa HIV/AIDS is fuelled by heterosexual intercourse, it is imperative to monitor trends in sexual behaviour among young adults in order to be able to identify and understand those sexual behaviours that fuel the epidemic. This study uses the Cape Area Panel Study (CAPS) data conducted in the Cape Town Metropolitan between 2002 and 2005. It tracks trends in sexual behaviour, and determines the predictors of risky sexual behaviour among these young adults. The study reveals that condom use is extremely high among all population groups, except among Coloured males whose condom use actually declined between 2002 and 2005. The study also reveals that the percentage of young adults engaging in risky sexual behaviour, such as having multiple sexual partners has declined between 2002 and 2005. Early sexual onset determines risky sexual behaviour later in life. This suggests that in order to equip young adults to act in a sexually responsible manner later in life, protective factors such as family involvement, schooling, peer influence and selfesteem must be strengthened before sexual onset. The conclusion drawn from this study is that in order to curtail rising trends in inconsistent condom use and multiple sexual partners and to increase the age at first sex, early intervention programs are necessary.