National Student Sexual Health HIV Knowledge, Attitude and Behaviour Survey: Focusing on Student Men who have Sex with Men at 14 Higher Education Institutions in South Africa
The Higher Education and Training HIV/AIDS Programme (HEAIDS), in partnership with Networking HIV/AIDS Community of South Africa (NACOSA) and funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, undertook research among students at higher education institutions (HEIs) in South Africa to explore their knowledge, attitudes and behaviour in relation to sexual health and HIV. The sample comprised both male and female students, and specifically included male students who have sex with men. The study was intended to inform a comprehensive package of care for men who have sex with men (MSM) and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) members of campus communities.
The background to the study was that HEAIDS had identified 14 HEIs where more support was needed in order to provide an appropriate package of services for MSM and LGBTQI populations. NACOSA was a principal recipient of the Global Fund Round 9 grant to South Africa. Principal recipients are responsible for the disbursement of the grant to implementation partners and monitoring and evaluation of implementation to ensure achievement of grant objectives.
The study surveyed 8,869 students across HEIs and found that about 10 percent of those surveyed identified as MSM. More generally, about 16 percent of students identified as homosexual, six percent reported being bisexual while nine percent reported identifying with “other” forms of sexual orientation.
The study attempted to assess health indicators including risky sexual behaviour, HIV knowledge, as well as alcohol and drug abuse among the sample.
According to the 92-page report, the study found high levels of sexual violence among MSM with more than one in 10 reporting being forced to have sex against their will. About 3 percent of MSM reported perpetrating sexual violence against a partner.
The study recommends strengthening campus HIV testing and mental health services for MSM and LGBTQI students. It also advocates working to create more enabling environments on campuses for MSM and LGBTQI students.