On-line version ISSN 2223-6279
Print version ISSN 0379-8577
BADENHORST, G; VAN STADEN, A and E COETSEE, M.Ed. Student. HIV/AIDS risk factors among residence students at the University of the Free State. Curationis [online]. 2008, vol.31, n.3, pp.27-35. ISSN 2223-6279.
The aim of this study is to investigate the sexual campus culture of students at the University of the Free State (UFS), by specifically focussing on gender and culture as patterns of high-risk sexual behaviour. The sample consisted of 396 participants, 211 female and 185 male students, with a mean age of 19.9 years. Sixty one percent (61%) of the students associated themselves with a Western cultural background and 39% with an African cultural background. In this article an exposition is provided on information collected in a survey conducted at the UFS to help provide a better understanding of risk factors for HIV infection among UFS students in comparison with the behaviour patterns of students at other universities. Stereotypes identified as known risk factors making students at other universities more vulnerable to HIV and high-risk sexual behaviour, were also found among UFS students. Results indicated the existence of the following statistical significant correlations: African cultural students, gender and their viewpoint that there is a stronger relationship between homosexuality and HIV/AIDS; their opinion that HIV/AIDS is more strongly associated with African students. Data obtained from this survey questionnaire show that even if students have a great deal of knowledge to their disposal, and even if they recognised that they were personally at risk, some students' sexual practices and risk-taking behaviour remained unchanged. Despite the fact that the majority of students (85%) concluded that it is unacceptable for a woman or a man to have more than one sexual partner and that it is better to wait until marriage before engaging in a sexual relationship, 17% of male students (Western culture) and 4% of female students indicated that they have had more than five sexual partners in their lives. Statistical significant correlations also existed between African students, gender and their sexual activity the last six months. Contradictory to research results reported in literature, data obtained from this survey indicate that the majority of students view condom use in a positive light - 75% of participating African students disagreed with the statement 'not using a condom during sexual intercourse shows trust in your partner'. Finally, in an interesting revelation, a general sexual culture was identified among UFS students, rather than culturally-based sexual practices.
Keywords : HIV/AIDS; culture; gender; high-risk sexual behaviour; residence students; University of the Free State.