African Health Sciences
Makerere University Medical School
Vol. 4, No. 2, 2004, pp. 102-108
Bioline Code: hs04018
Full paper language: English
Document type: Research Article
Document available free of charge
African Health Sciences, Vol. 4, No. 2, 2004, pp. 102-108
© Copyright 2004 - Makerere Medical School, Uganda
"We Have Our Own Special Language." Language, Sexuality and HIV/AIDS: A Case Study of Youth in an Urban Township in South Africa.|
Background: Despite the fact that most South African youth know about HIV / AIDS and how it can be prevented, there is a high prevalence of HIV / AIDS amongst youth in South Africa. Generally youth do not practice safe sex, and youth sexuality is characterised by multiple sexual partners, not using condoms and transactional sex.
Objectives: To minimize the risk of HIV infection, it is necessary to understand youth sexuality. In this paper I explore youth sexuality with a specific focus on how language influences sexuality.
Methods: I use discourse analysis and qualitative research techniques. Purposive sampling, a form of non-probability sampling was used. I interviewed seventy youth individually or in groups and used in-depth semi-structured interviews.
Results: The use of language influences youth sexuality. Youth have developed a specialised language to talk about sex and sexuality and this language has become part of the daily discourse, so that unsafe sexual practices become norms and are justified.
Conclusions: The realm of language can be a creative way for peer and HIV/AIDS educators to work with youth towards creating a healthier sexuality. However, as language always occurs in a material context, it is also necessary to work towards changing the material environment, such as poverty. This environment not only facilitates the development of a particular language but it also encourages unsafe sexual practices such as transactional sex.