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IDRC Rep. 1992 Jul;20(2):10-2.

What do young black South Africans think about AIDS?



In South Africa, a fatalistic attitude prevails among young black youth toward prevention of HIV transmission. Many of the 3 million black migrant laborers in single-sex hostels have many partners who are prostitutes. Due to culture, race, and class, black women are so oppressed that they cannot even require sex partners to wear condoms. Blacks perceive condoms as a governmental means to control population growth. The Centre for Health and Social Studies has learned that 14-17 year old blacks have been sexually active for a long time, so it has decided to also market its AIDS prevention program to 11-13 year olds. AIDS has not yet reached epidemic proportions in South Africa, however, and a full scale intervention program implemented between the end of 1992 and mid-1993 could stem the epidemic. The Health and Refugee Trust has developed a data base about the attitudes of South African refugees toward AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. It plans to distribute educational materials to hostels, squatter settlements, and rural communities. The Transport and General Workers Union has also set up an AIDS prevention program since truckers are at high risk of HIV infection. At the end of 1991, 445,000 people in South Africa have been infected with HIV. Heterosexuality is the predominate mode of HIV transmission among blacks, but among whites, it is homosexuality. Educated, affluent whites tend to be knowledge about AIDS and practice safer sex. Among the working class whites, however, knowledge levels are high, but they do not necessarily practice safer sex. Awareness tends to be quite high among blacks, but they do not generally practice safer sex. South Africa and the US are the only 2 developed countries that do not provide health care for all. This weak system limits AIDS prevention efforts. 80% of whites have health insurance compared with only 7% of blacks.

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