White South Africans know less and worry less about HIV/AIDS than other race groups, while young people are more likely to accept having sex in exchange for money.
These are some of the results of a baseline study of 2 500 people nationwide commissioned by the Department of Health to inform its new communication campaign, Khomanani (Caring together).
"White respondents were less likely to
perceive themselves, their peers or partners as being ‘at risk’ of
contracting HIV/AIDS, and therefore may take less interest in the issue,"
according to the report, which was released in Pretoria
on Friday (
"This highlights the dangers of HIV/AIDS being labelled as a problem affecting particular groups of people and the imperative need to develop a range of messages which appeal to different audiences," says the report.
There has been a huge increase in African and
coloured respondents who see themselves and their partners at risk of getting
the disease. Two years ago, a
In contrast, only 35% of white respondents believed they were at risk and 30% believed their partners were at risk.
Risk perception is important, as researchers in
countries such as
Urban African citizens from
Despite the fact that the HIV/AIDS prevalence
rate is highest in KwaZulu-Natal, with one in three pregnant women testing HIV
positive, only 25% of respondents said they knew someone affected by HIV/AIDS.
This indicates that stigma and denial is still very high in
The highest rate of HIV infection is in young people, which is why they are a particular target group for Khomanani.
The good news is that condom use was highest amongst the 15 to 19-year-olds, with 62% reporting having used a condom the last time they had sex.
However, young people were less likely to accept the merits of delaying the age at which they started to have sex. In addition, young men were most likely to agree that "men have the right to have sex with their girlfriends if they spend money on them or buy them gifts".
Rural respondents reported having sex earlier than those in urban areas, while men had their first sexual experience about a year before women. The average age of first sex was 17.
Urban women were the least prejudiced against people with HIV/AIDS. Goodwill was abundant, however, with a massive 70% of people saying that they would be prepared to help someone who was HIV positive."There was a clear racial pattern in responses to whether people would be prepared to publicly support people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWA)," said the report. "Approximately half of white respondents would consider supporting PLWA compared with two-thirds of respondents from other race groups. Respondents with personal knowledge of people affected by HIV/AIDS were more likely to consider PLWA than those who did not know people who were effected."