Business Day (Johannesburg) (09.05.07) - Wednesday, September
A new study from the Center for AIDS Development, Research &
Evaluation (CADRE) finds that many South Africans ages 20-30
continue to have concurrent sexual partners despite the high
risk for HIV.
CADRE Executive Director Warren Parker said the study's
findings have important implications for the design of HIV
prevention campaigns, which have generally targeted young
people ages 15-20 and focused on "Abstain, Be faithful, and
use Condoms." "It's important to evolve away from the ABC
message because it's far too simplistic," said Parker.
The study was based on a household survey of more than 7,002
people, with focus group-based follow-up interviews with 75
young adults. Concurrent sexual partnerships were widely
accepted by both men and women, it found. Many respondents
separated sex and love, reporting that they had sex with love
with a "main partner" and sex without love with "other"
Instead of seeing faithfulness as being monogamous in a
relationship, many respondents understood it as shielding
their main partners from knowing they had other partners. "I
am faithful to [my girlfriend] because even when I have other
girlfriends I do not walk around with them for her to see,"
said one young man. "Being faithful is protecting the one you
love from hurt," a woman concurred.
According to the Human Sciences Research Council, about 33
percent of women and 12.1 percent of men ages 25-30 in South
Africa are HIV-infected. Half the study group said they knew
someone who was HIV-positive or had died from an AIDS-related
illness. One-fifth of the women and 14 percent of the men said
they had helped care for someone with AIDS. Yet their
awareness was at odds with their acknowledged sexual behavior,
with few reporting consistent condom use.