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Vulnerable Child Youth Stud. 2011 Sep 1;6(3):244-254. Epub 2011 Aug 23.

"Group sex" parties and other risk patterns: A qualitative study about the perceptions of sexual behaviors and attitudes of adolescents in Soweto, South Africa.

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Perinatal Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.


This study explored perceptions about sexual behaviors and attitudes of adolescents living in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, from the perspective of parents, counselors and adolescents. A qualitative methodology was applied. Nine focus group discussions (FGDs) were held; three with parents of adolescents, two with counselors who work with adolescents, two with female adolescents aged 16-18 years and two with male adolescents aged 16-18 years. In total, 80 participants were recruited from in and around Soweto. FGDs were guided by a semi-structured interview guide, audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and translated into English. Data were analyzed using Maxqda, a qualitative software analysis program. There were eight key themes related to adolescent sexuality and perceived attitudes towards relationships. Five themes were common to all participant groupings (parents, counselors and adolescents): (1) dating during adolescence, (2) adolescent females dating older males, (3) condom use amongst adolescents, (4) pregnancy and (5) homosexuality. (6) Sex as a regular and important activity among adolescents and (7) group sex practices among adolescents emerged as themes from adolescent and counselor FGDs. Lastly, (8) the role of the media as an influence on adolescent sexuality was common to adolescent and parent groups. Risky sexual behaviors continue among adolescents, with group sex parties a concerning emergent phenomenon that necessitates further study. HIV, other STIs and pregnancy prevention interventions should address multiple levels of influence to address context-specific influences.

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