Original Articles

Kissing the cobra: Sexuality and high risk in a generalised epidemic—a case study of White university students

Published in: African Journal of AIDS Research
Volume 1, issue 1, 2002 , pages: 23–33
DOI: 10.2989/16085906.2002.9626541
Author(s): Tessa Marcus, South Africa


This paper explores the social factors that may account for the way the HIV-AIDS epidemic is unfolding in a racially segmented and socially differentiated society. As a sexually transmitted infectious disease that particularly infects adolescents and decimates young adults, there is an urgent need to critically assess assumptions about the influence of culture and social relations on differences in patterns and the scale of infection across racial groups in South Africa. The point of departure is the recognition that while nationally there is a generalised epidemic of gigantic proportions, the epidemic among young White adults is still nascent. Through a qualitative exploration of White student perceptions of risk, sexual networking and practices in an HIV-AIDS environment, this small study hopes to shed light on some of the social and cultural issues surrounding the epidemic.

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