MPhil study projects

Establishing the sexual health behaviour and needs of young women when accessing sexual health services in the peri-urban township of Inanda, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa

Student: Sithabile Mdabe

Country: South Africa

Young women in Sub-Saharan Africa face significant risks of HIV infection, unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Their sexual and reproductive health is closely intertwined with the HIV epidemic, necessitating a deeper understanding of their behaviour and needs concerning sexual health services.

A cross-sectional study was conducted in Inanda township, focusing on 30 women aged 18 to 24. Using a mixed-method approach, participants completed a questionnaire during clinic visits to gauge their sexual health behaviours and requirements.

The findings revealed persistent risky sexual behaviours despite available education. A substantial proportion of participants reported inconsistent condom use, multiple sexual partners and unplanned sexual debuts. Many participants also lacked accurate information about sex.

The study underscored the necessity for further exploration of young women’s sexual health behaviour in the township and advocated for enhanced investment in customised sexual health services. While participants demonstrated awareness of sexual health resources, service effectiveness remained inadequate. Addressing the HIV epidemic requires tailored behavioural change programmes that account for socioeconomic dynamics.