Young South Africans' views on, and perceptions of, abstinence and faithfulness
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The goals of the Abstinence and Be Faithful Among Youth (ABY) project were to enhance local responses among the youth in South Africa to prevent HIV infection through encouraging abstinence, faithfulness and avoidance of unhealthy sexual behaviour among youths over a five-year period. A quantitative baseline evaluation of the ABY project was conducted in five cities in South Africa. Data were collected from learners and youths just before the ABY intervention started at nine randomly selected sites in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Mthatha using a three-stage cluster sampling design. In total, nine sites were randomly selected from a possible eighteen. At each of the data-collection points, data were collected from 60 participants. In total there were 27 data-collection points and 1620 respondents. Young people have strong views on abstaining from sexual intercourse, as 83% said that it was possible not to have sex for as long as you can. There was also strong support for abstinence, as 78.5% said that not having sex was the best way of preventing infection with HIV. In total, 68.1% of the youths said that the media had a positive influence on encouraging abstinence and 72.1% said role models could help them not to have sex, while 84.3% said that leadership and life skills workshops were helpful in encouraging them to abstain from sex. In total, 68.7% of young people said that the media encouraged faithfulness in relationships and 84.6% said that life skills workshops were helpful in encouraging them to remain faithful to one partner. Young people have strong views on and support for abstinence. They also have strong views on and perceptions of remaining faithful to one partner. These findings are a valuable guide to the views and perceptions of young people with respect to abstinence and faithfulness before interventions are implemented.