Title page for ETD etd-08272010-132415

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Nkosi, Ixia Claudia Nobantu
Email snkosi@tuks.co.za
URN etd-08272010-132415
Document Title Abstain, be faithful and condomise : how high school learners understand and prioritise HIV/AIDS message of combating HIV infection
Degree MEd
Department Education Management and Policy Studies
Advisor Name Title
Dr C Herman Supervisor
  • condoms to prevent infections
  • adolescents
  • South Africa
Date 2010-04-13
Availability restricted

Adolescents in South Africa are exposed to a rising number of infections owing to HIV/AIDS. In an effort to combat this scourge, HIV/AIDS education efforts have also increased. The prevention programme coined as the ABC prevention message (Abstain, Be Faithful and Condomise) is presented to young people to combat the rising number of infections. Health education initiatives are intended to increase the level of knowledge, influence attitude and encourage safe sexual practices. However, the message is subject to different interpretations and different understandings and the advocacy of the barrier method using condoms to prevent infection seems to encourage the very thing that the message seeks to discourage, that is, promiscuity. Thus, this diversified message packaged in one prevention strategy has created confusion and is a contradiction of terms.

The aim of the study is to describe and explore how learners understand and prioritise the ABC message as an HIV/AIDS prevention strategy. This is a qualitative case study of semirural high school learners in Grades 11 and 12. The data collection strategy comprised semistructured individual interviews and three focus group interviews. The study is approached from a Social Cognitive theory framework with a specific focus on the concepts of selfefficacy and collective agency as agents that influence individuals’ behaviour.

The results indicate that educational programmes inform learners about the ABC message as an HIV/AIDS prevention message. The study has shown that the level of awareness among the learners may be seen in terms of a continuum. There are those who have full knowledge and awareness of the pandemic and its effect, while other learners’ knowledge is marred by misconceptions about the disease. Some ignore the message and others are ignorant about its effects. The findings also reveal that the ABC message is modified by learners and teachers based on the material to which they are exposed. The three components of the message are also found to be confusing to the youth. Socioeconomic status also seems to affect the youth in the effort to adhere to the message. Abstinence seems to be the preferred message by various groups; however, the misconceptions that exist and the sexual urge hinders its effectiveness. For some learners faithfulness has nothing to do with relationships and everything to do with faithfulness to the goals.

There would seem to be barriers to the condom-use message which are caused by the belief that condoms reduce sexual pleasure and are antagonistic to love and trust, and little is being done to empower the youth with proper skills in using condoms.

The research also highlighted the influence the media has on society. Media plays a dual role: it provides information about ABC but also encourages the early introduction of young people to sexual intercourse. Prioritisation of the message is varied and is influenced by culture, family support, goals in life, maturity level and religious beliefs. The ability to stand firm in the fact of peer pressure is dependent on the strength of an individual’s self-efficacy. There is also little public discourse on sex, sexuality and HIV/AIDS in communities. The lack of social support and silence in the community hinders adherence to the message. In addition, socioeconomic status affects the youth and challenges the understanding of the ABC message and thus results in the varied prioritisation of the message.

In conclusion, the study highlighted that young people who have clear goals for the future, use their capabilities and are confident of achieving their goals. They show determination and are able to control their behaviour through self-motivation and are able by being in charge of their social environment.

Copyright © 2009, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Nkosi, ICN 2009, Abstain, be faithful and condomise : how high school learners understand and prioritise HIV/AIDS message of combating HIV infection, MEd dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-08272010-132415/ >


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