Perceptions of the combination of HIV/AIDS and alcohol as a risk factor among STI clinic attenders in South Africa: implications for HIV prevention
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With the emergence of HIV/AIDS as a global health threat, there has been increasing interest among researchers in understanding sexual risk-taking behavior. The finding of a strong link between sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV suggests that individuals with STIs may be at greatest risk for HIV infection. This study sought to gain insight regarding STI clinic attenders' perceptions of HIV/AIDS and alcohol as a risk factor with regard to HIV infection. Twenty-one men and women who were self-referrals at an STI dedicated clinic in Cape Town, South Africa, participated in the study. The findings showed that HIV/AIDS was cognitively represented as an STI, transmitted through risky sexual behavior such as casual sex, multiple sexual partners, and inconsistent condom use. Alcohol was implicated as a major risk factor to HIV infection because it was perceived as the main tool for transactional sex, lowering of sexual inhibitions and inconsistent use of condoms. The implications of these findings for the development of effective HIV/AIDS prevention programs are discussed.
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