University of the Western Cape students’ perceptions of alcohol use as a risk factor to HIV infection
Kelly, Tarryn Lee
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Alcohol remains the most commonly abused substance in South Africa and several studies have shown associations between alcohol use and risky sexual behaviours, which pose a risk of HIV infection. Research indicates that the age group of 15-24 years is a high risk group for HIV infection. This study aimed at examining the perceptions of alcohol as a risk factor to HIV infection amoungst a sample of university students.Specifically, this study tested the hypotheses that most students perceive that those who consume alcohol were more likely to engage in unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners, casual sex and transactional sex. The Information Motivation Behavioural(IMB) skills model provided the theoretical framework for the study. Using a quantitative research design, a survey questionnaire was used to collect the data. The sample consisted of 240 first year psychology students (192 females, 48 males). Data analyses indicated support for the hypotheses that alcohol consumption was perceived as high risk for unprotected sex, casual sex and sex with multiple partners. However, the data showed no support for the hypothesis of alcohol increasing the risk of transactional sex. The data also indicated that non-drinkers were more likely to perceive alcohol as a risk factor than drinkers. The recognition by students of alcohol as a risk factor for HIV infection provides an opportunity for raising awareness about safer sex practices at institutions of higher learning in South Africa.