Sex, drugs, booze up students’ HIV risk

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Cape Town - More high school pupils are having sex, drinking alcohol and taking drugs before going to university – putting themselves at risk of contracting HIV and Aids, a local study has revealed.

A University of the Western Cape (UWC) study among first-year students also revealed that young people are increasingly engaging in sexual activities – and there has been a significant decrease in condom use in recent years.

The six-year study, from 2007 to this year, showed 60 percent of students reported regular condom use five years ago, but this number dropped by nine percent with this year only 51 percent using condoms often.

In 2007 only 33 percent of students infrequently used condoms, but this year the number jumped to 42 percent while seven percent of the students had never used condoms.

Renette Blignaut, associate professor from UWC’s department of statistics, who analysed about 6 700 questionnaires from unmarried students, said the study explored sexual risk behaviour, including sexual activity, age at first having sex, number of sexual partners and condom usage.

Presenting the study at a Higher Education conference at UCT last week, Blignaut said students reporting having had vaginal sex before entering university increased from 44 percent in 2007 to 51 percent this year.

HIV testing has increased from only 19 percent in 2007 to almost 50 percent this year, but “the

decrease in regular condom use and use of alcohol and drugs was very worrying. Alcohol and drugs impair judgment that could lead to risky sexual behaviour that increases the risk of HIV/Aids.” - Cape Argus

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