SAMJ: South African Medical Journal
On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574
FRANK, S et al. Risky sexual behaviours of high-school pupils in an era of HIV and AIDS. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2008, vol.98, n.5, pp.394-398. ISSN 2078-5135.
OBJECTIVE: To identify risky sexual behaviours and demographic factors that place high-school pupils at risk of HIV and AIDS. METHODS: A cross-sectional study was undertaken to explore factors influencing the sexual behaviour of high-school pupils (mean age 15.4 years; SD 1.11). Structured self-reported questionnaires were completed by all grade 10 pupils (N=805) at all the Wentworth, Durban, public high schools. RESULTS: Significant gender differences in sexual practices were reported, such as males being more likely to engage in sexual activity than females (OR 4.92; p<0.001). More males (24.8%) initiated sex before age 12, compared with more females (30%) who initiated sex between 16 to 20 years of age (p<0.001). Significantly more males preferred older partners than females (p=0.002), more females were forced to have sex than males (p =0.009), and more males used alcohol on the last occasion of sex than females (p=0.04). Religious affiliation and parental supervision were found to have a significant effect on sexual activity among pupils. CONCLUSIONS: High-school pupils are at high risk of HIV and AIDS, yet they continue to engage in risky sexual behaviours. Preventive efforts therefore need to be aggressively up-scaled and redirected towards specific risky practices, taking gender differences into account. Contextual factors such as religious norms and parental supervision also require greater attention. Risky sexual behaviours are reflective of a broader crisis in society.