Tangible skill building and HIV youth prevention intervention in rural South Africa
There have been countless youth programmes throughout Africa resulting in increased knowledge of HIV, but all too often there is a discrepancy between knowledge and behaviour change. According to available literature, successful projects need to consider the context in which young people live, be consistent with community values, and be family inclusive and youth centred. This, however, requires active involvement of communities, families and youth, which in turn implies a more local response to the epidemic in small projects. This paper presents results from a survey in a rural community of South Africa which investigated the contextual factors associated with HIV knowledge, attitudes and practice in such a setting. The community was of particular interest as it had developed a local youth literacy and family support programme which included HIV-prevention messages. All school aged children of the two settlements were approached (N = 100), some of whom regularly participated in the literacy classes. The survey investigated the association between contextual factors such as caregivers, peers and exposure to the literacy classes in regards to HIV-knowledge, attitudes and practice. The results suggest that contextual factors have an impact on sexual behaviour and self-efficacy as well as on attitudes towards condom use. This indicates that peers and caregivers influence the perceived agency to practise safe sex and the likelihood that adolescents practise ‘deviant’ behaviour such as drinking, getting involved in drugs or becoming sexually active. However, the results suggest that exposure to community projects such as literacy classes have the potential to positively influence reading scores, attitudes towards condom use and delay of sexual debut while it has little effect on HIV knowledge.