In the current study, the researchers sought "to explore and describe characteristics of males' social and sexual networks in a South African peri-urban community." They conducted 20 in-depth interviews with men participating in a larger quantitative study. The men's median age was 28.7; nearly 56 percent had attended high school; 17.2 percent were unemployed; and 94.7 percent were unmarried.
The researchers used a Thematic Question Guide with open-ended questions for the interviews. To explore characteristics and dynamics of social and sexual relationships among the men, a thematic content analysis was conducted.
The results indicated that a high number of temporary and stable concurrent female sex partners, geographic mobility, and high levels of unprotected sex all were common among the men. "Increased status as a man and lack of trust in women's fidelity were given as important reasons for concurrent female sexual relationships," the authors wrote. The pursuit and maintenance of this behavior received economic and social support from strong social networks within male core groups.
"Concurrent sexual relationships in combination with high viral loads among newly infected individuals unaware of their HIV status create an extremely high-risk environment for the spread of HIV in this population," the authors concluded. "Interventions targeting men at high risk of HIV need to challenge current societal norms of masculinity to help promote individual sexual risk reductions strategies. Such strategies should go beyond increasing condom use to include a reduction in the number of concurrent sexual partners."
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.