The development of a university-based sex counselling programme in the age of AIDS.
The sexual behaviours, attitudes, beliefs and communication of 1896 black first-year university students were examined by means of a structured questionnaire for their contribution to the development of a university-based sex counselling programme. The areas of sexuality investigated included intra-familial communication about contraception and sexuality, belief in sex myths, knowledge of and myths about AIDS and the manner of acquisition of sex knowledge. The results of this study are consistent in reflecting much greater deficits in the knowledge of respondents about sexuality than encountered in the literature. Statistically significant gender differences were found for intra-familial communication about contraception, prejudice towards AIDS victims, knowledge of the modes of HIV infection, prejudice towards homosexuals, belief in myths about sexuality, age at which sex information was acquired, the preferred source of information about sexuality, attitude towards pre-marital intercourse, experience of pre-marital intercourse, belief about the acceptability of abortion, experience of pre-marital intercourse and worry about masturbation. No gender differences were found for belief in myths about high-risk AIDS infection, exposure to sex information within educational institutions and approval of sex education. The statistically significant gender differences which were found for most of the questionnaire items reflect the different sexual socialization experiences of respondents. Male and female students may therefore require counselling interventions geared to their respective needs Concern about AIDS has become central to university student sexual behaviour as well as protection against rape and sexual harassment and male responsibility for contraception. All campus counsellors will eventually experience the impact of AIDS and other sexually·transmitted diseases in their sessions with clients. Sexual harassment, rape, contraceptive failure and abortion will also increasingly impact on counselling sessions and require the university-based counsellor's involvement in broader university-wide prevention programmes as well as group based interventions. The development of a university-based sex counselling programme requires comprehensive interventions ranging from individual counselling to human sexuality courses. An awareness of the high profile sexuality problems as perceived by students, is essential for the development of preventive programmes at the group and academic class level as well as at the level of inf luencing uni versi ty policy. Knowledge of the merits of different theoretical positions and interventions for particular sexual problems is crucial for counselling intervention or referral. A systemic model of intervention for sexuality problems is proposed. The task of university-based sex counselling programmes is made more onerous by the paucity and ineffectiveness of sex information students are exposed to, the lack of sex education in the schools and the inadequate quality and degree of intrafamilial communication about sexuality. A significant proportion of respondents engage in pre-marital sexual intercourse without the benefit of adequate sex knowledge. The results of this study emphasize the need for research on the sexuality of, black South Africans, the particular vulnerabilities of first-year university students to sexuality problems and the dire need for structured sex education programmes at school as well as university.