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Sexuality and HIV prevention: concerns of young people within faith communities in KwaZulu–Natal, South Africa:  
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health, International Maternal and Child Health (IMCH).
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health, International Maternal and Child Health (IMCH).
School of Religion and Theology, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa .
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health, International Maternal and Child Health (IMCH).
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This paper explores HIV prevention messages reported by young people, and their perceived risk of HIV infection in faith communities. A questionnaire survey was conducted, including young people (n=1102) affiliated to the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church and the Assemblies of God. The questionnaire included: sociodemographic characteristics, the teachings of the churches on sexuality and HIV prevention, experiences of relationships, and the perceived risk of HIV infection. Participants were also encouraged to write questions on sexuality and HIV/AIDS. Unmarried individuals aged 15-24 years (n=811) were included in the analysis. The majority (83%) participated in youth groups and considered themselves as religious (80%). Premarital sexual abstinence was the most frequent (88%) reported prevention message from the church, followed by: faithfulness (23%), HIV testing (18%), and condom use (17%). The majority (83%) had experience of a relationship and perceived themselves at risk of HIV infection (53%); 29% of the respondents had been tested.  Using binary logistic regression analysis, we found that religious affiliation was associated with education on sexuality and HIV in youth groups, suggesting better information for members in the Lutheran and Catholic churches. Lutheran youth were more likely to be tested for HIV. The personal questions illustrated that young people in churches have serious questions about their sexuality, relationships, and HIV transmission.

In conclusion, faith communities focus on abstinence messages, while the information on sexuality and relationships appear to be less frequent. Faith communities need to strengthen their capacity to educate young people about sexuality, relationships and HIV prevention. 

Keyword [en]
Religion; education; HIV; AIDS; youth; church; South Africa
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Research subject
International Health
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-155278OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-155278DiVA: diva2:424935
Available from: 2011-06-20 Created: 2011-06-20 Last updated: 2011-09-08
In thesis
1. Christian Communities and Prevention of HIV among Youth in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Christian Communities and Prevention of HIV among Youth in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Young people in South Africa, particularly females, are at great risk of acquiring HIV, and heterosexual sex is the predominant mode of HIV transmission. In order to curb the epidemic the Department of Health encourages all sectors in the society, including religious institutions, to respond effectively.

The present thesis seeks to increase the understanding of the role of Christian communities in prevention of HIV for young people. Three denominations in KwaZulu-Natal were selected to reflect the diversity of Christian churches in South Africa: the Roman Catholic Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa, and the Assemblies of God.

Using qualitative interviews the first paper explores how religious leaders (n=16) deal with the conflict between the values of the church and young people’s sexuality. Study II reports on attitudes to HIV prevention for young people among religious leaders (n=215) using questionnaire survey data. Study III investigates how young people (n=62) reflect on messages received from their churches regarding premarital sex by analysing nine focus group discussions. In the fourth paper, based on questionnaire survey data, we report on young people’s (n=811) experiences of relationships with the opposite sex and their perceived risk of HIV infection.

The view that young people in churches are sexually active before marriage was common among religious leadership. The majority of religious leaders also reported that they are responsible for educating young people about HIV prevention. Religious leaders who had received training on HIV were more likely to run a life skills programme for young people, however they were ambivalent about prevention messages. Young people reported premarital sexual abstinence as the main HIV prevention message from their churches. The majority responded that they had received information about HIV in church. To be in a relationship was common, more so for males for whom multiple relationships also were viewed more acceptable. To perceive themselves at risk of HIV infection was common.

Further training for religious leaders is needed to enable them to manage the conflict between the doctrine of the church and their willingness to assist young people in the transition into adulthood.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2011. 69 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Medicine, ISSN 1651-6206 ; 684
Keyword
HIV prevention, Young people, Religion, Religious leaders, Sexuality, HIV risk, South Africa
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Research subject
International Health
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-155097 (URN)978-91-554-8113-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-09-23, Room IX, Universiteteshuset, Biskopsgatan 3, Uppsala, 09:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
Faculty of MedicineAvailable from: 2011-08-30 Created: 2011-06-16 Last updated: 2011-09-08Bibliographically approved

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