Special section: HIV risk perception

Exploring risk and protective mechanisms associated with HIV infection among adolescents in South Africa

Published in: Journal of Psychology in Africa
Volume 24, issue 3, 2014 , pages: 232–240
DOI: 10.1080/14330237.2014.906080
Author(s): Pamela NaidooPopulation Health, Health Systems and Innovation, Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa, Geri DonenbergDepartment of Medicine, United States, Alicia DavidsPopulation Health, Health Systems and Innovation, Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa, Kim JonasPopulation Health, Health Systems and Innovation, Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa, Redwaan VermaakPopulation Health, Health Systems and Innovation, Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa, Leickness SimbayiPopulation Health, Health Systems and Innovation, Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa, Ashraf KageeDepartment of Psychology, South Africa, Catherine WardDepartment of Psychology, South Africa, Erin EmersenDepartment of Medicine, United States

Abstract

This study explored South African adolescents’ perceived risk and protection for HIV infection. Adolescents (N=28) with a mean age of 14.6 years receiving mental health care participated in Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) to engage in an in-depth exploration of their perceived risk and protective mechanisms for HIV prevention. The data were analysed using thematic content analysis. Themes that emerged from the FGDs associated with risk for HIV infection were: Alcohol and illicit drug use; Non-condom use; Prostitution and risky sexual activity with multiple partners; and Non-disclosure of HIV status. Themes that emerged as protective mechanisms included: HIV knowledge and appropriate HIV risk reducing behaviour; and Proactive parental attitudes and behaviour. These findings highlight the importance of ascertaining the perceptions of adolescents about risk and protection from HIV infection in order to inform future programs for HIV prevention among adolescents.

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