Perceptions of HIV and sexual risk behaviours among community members in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa

Alicia Edith Davids, Leickness Simbayi, Brian Van Wyk


In South Africa, the key behavioural risk factors increasing vulnerability to HIV infection are age disparate sexual relationships, teenage pregnancy, early sexual debut, multiple sexual partners and alcohol and substance abuse. This study aims to explore the perceptions of risk and sexual risk behaviours that increase vulnerability to HIV amongst community members in the Northern Cape Province. Seven focus groups were conducted with 67 participnats (youth 14 to 17 years old and adults 24 years and older) from various communities in the Northern Cape Province. The focus group discussions encompassed issues related to the perceptions and prevalence of risk taking behaviours. All transcripts were transcribed verbatim, and data were analysed thematically. Participants reported that community members perceived their HIV risk as low-risk even though they engage in risky sexual behaviours that increase their vulnerability to contracting HIV. Furthermore, participants stated that age-disparate sexual relationships are on the increase, exposing young girls to the risk of HIV infection due to poor economic conditions prevalent in communities they live in across the Northern Cape Province. Knowing (through epidemiology) and understanding the local epidemic (through qualitative research) are critical to developing and implementing the appropriate local programmes for communities where different drivers of the HIV epidemic exists in the Northern Cape Province.


Bajunirwe, F., Bangsberg, D.R., & Sethi, A.K. (2013). Alcohol Use and HIV Serostatus of Partner Predict High-Risk Sexual Behavior among Patients Receiving Antiretroviral Therapy in South Western Uganda. BMC Public Health, 13, 430.

Corte, C.M., & Sommers, M.S. (2005). Alcohol and risky behaviors. Annu Rev Nurs Res, 23, 327-360.

Creek, T.L., Ntumy, R., Seipone, K., Smith, M., Mogodi, M., Smith, M., Legwaila, K., Molokwane, .I, Tebele, G., Mazhani, L., Shaffer, N., & Kilmarx, P.H. (2007). Successful introduction of routine opt-out HIV testing in antenatal care in Botswana. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome 45: 102–107.

Flisher, A.J., Reddy, P., Muller, M., & Lombard, C. (2003). Sexual behaviour of Cape Town high school students. South African Medical Journal, 93:537–541.

Grimes, D.A., Benson, J., Singh, S. et al. (2006). Unsafe abortion: the preventable pandemic. Lancet 368, 1908–1919.

Johnson, M. (2013). Teenage mother’s reflections of their unintended, repeat pregnancies. A mini thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters in Social Work. South Africa: University of the Western Cape.

Johnson, S., Kincaid, L., Laurence, S., Chikwava, F., Delate, R., & Mahlasela, L. (2010). Second National HIV Communication Survey 2009: Findings from Eastern Cape Province. Pretoria: JHHESA.

Kalichman, S., & Simbayi, L.C. (2003). HIV testing attitudes, AIDS stigma, and voluntary HIV counselling and testing in a black township in Cape Town, South Africa. Sexually Transmitted Infections 79: 442–447.

Katz, I., & Low-Beer, D. (2008). Why Has HIV Stabilized in South Africa, Yet Not Declined Further? Age and Sexual Behavior Patterns Among Youth. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 35 (10): 837–842.

Leclerc-Madlala, S. (2008). Age disparate and intergenerational sex in southern Africa: The dynamics of hypervulnerability. AIDS, 22: 17-25.

Mchunu, G., Peltzer, K., Tutshana, B., & Seutlwadi, L. (2012). Adolescent pregnancy and associated factors in South African youth. African Health Sciences. (4): 426 – 434.

Mugo, N.R., Med, M., Heffron, R., Donnell, D., Wald, A., et al. (2011). Increased risk of HIV-1 transmission in pregnancy: a prospective study among African HIV-1 serodiscordant couples. AIDS 25: 1887–1895.

Nkosana, J., & Rosenthal, D. (2007). Saying no to intergenerational sex: The experience of schoolgirls in Botswana.Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies: An International Interdisciplinary Journal for Research, Policy and Care, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 1-11.

Parry, C.D.H., & Pithey, A.L. (2006). Risk behaviour and HIV among drug using population in South Africa. African Journal of Drug & Alcohol Studies, 5(2), 139-156.

Parry, C.D.H. (2001). Alcohol and other drug abuse. In A. Ntuli, N. Crisp, E. Clarke, & P. Barron (Eds.), South African health review: 2000 (pp. 441e451). Durban, South Africa: Health Systems Trust.

Pettifor, A., O'Brien, K., Macphail, C., Miller, W.C., Rees, H. (2009). Early coital debut and associated HIV risk factors among young women and men in South Africa. International Perspectives on Sexual Reproductive Health, 35(2):82-90.

Pettifor, A.E., Rees, H., Steffenson, A., Hlongwa-Madikizela, L., MacPhail, C., Vermaak, K., et al. (2004). HIV and sexual behaviour among young South Africans. Johannesburg: Reproductive Health Research Unit, University of Witwatersrand.

Quinn, P.D., & Fromme, K. (2010). Self-regulation as a protective factor against risky drinking and sexual behavior. Psychol. Addict. Behav, 24:376–385.

Ramjee, G., & Daniels, B. (2013). Women and HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa. AIDS Research and Therapy. 10: 30.

Rehle, T.M., Hallett, T.B., Shisana, O., Pillay-van Wyk, V., Zuma, K., Carrara, H., & Jooste, S. (2010). A decline in new HIV infections in South Africa: Estimating HIV incidence from three national HIV surveys in 2002, 2005 and 2008. PLoS ONE 5(6): e11094. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011094.

Rehle, .T, Shisana, O., Pillay, V., Zuma, K., Puren, A., & Parker, W. (2007). National HIV incidence measures--new insights into the South African epidemic. South African Medical Journal. 97(3):194–199.

Robert, K.J., Gray, R.H., Sewankambo, N.K., Serwadda, D., Wabwire-Mangen, F., Lutalo, T., & Wawer, M.J. (2003). “Age differences in sexual partners and risk of HIV - 1 infection in rural Uganda.” Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes 32(4): 446-451.

SADC. (2006). Expert Think Tank Meeting on HIV Prevention in High Prevalence Countries. Meeting Report. Gaborone: SADC HIV/AIDS Unit.

Sander, P.M., Colem S.R., Ostrow, D.G., et al. (2010). Determinants of alcohol consumption in HIV-uninfected injection drug users. Drug Alcohol Depend, 1:173–176.

SANAC. (2011a). National strategic plan on HIV, STI and TB 2012-2016. Pretoria: SANAC

SANAC. (2011b). End of term review of the NSP 2007–2011: Final report. Pretoria: SANAC.

SANAC. (2011). National strategic plan on HIV, STI and TB 2012-2016. Pretoria: SANAC.

Shisana, O., Rehle, T., Simbayi, L.C., Zuma, K., Jooste, S., Zungu, N., Labadarios, D.L., Onoya, D., et al. (2014). South African National HIV Prevalence, Incidence and Behaviour Survey, 2012. Cape Town, HSRC Press.

Shisana, O., Rehle, T., Simbayi, L.C., Zuma, K., Jooste, S., Pillay-van Wyk, V., Mbelle. N., Van Zyl, J., Parker, W., Zungu, N.P., Pezi, S., SABSSM III Implementation Team. (2009). South African national HIV prevalence. incidence and communication survey 2008: A turning tide among teenagers? Cape Town: HSRC Press.

Steinberg, L. (2008). A social neuroscience perspective on adolescent risk-taking. Developmental Review, 28, 78–106.

Townsend, L., Jewkes, R., Mathews, C., Johnston, L.G., Flisher, A.J., Zembe, Y., & Chopra, M. (2010). HIV Risk Behaviours and their Relationship to Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Among Men Who Have Multiple Female Sexual Partners in Cape Town, South Africa. AIDS and Behavior, 15(1): 132-141.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.



DMDMH Strategies for Qualitative Research

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.


[JGHCS] ISSN 2159-6743 (Online)

Global Health Care Systems, Minnetonka, MN, USA 55305