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AIDS risk unclear for S. African youth

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LONDON, Oct 21, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- There is still widespread ignorance about AIDS and sexual violence among South African youth between the ages of 10 and 19, a study published Friday said.

Researchers surveyed more than 269,000 South African students about their views on and experiences of sexual violence, and found misconceptions common among both sexes.

More females held views that would put them at high risk of HIV infection, the study published in this week's British Medical Journal said.

Around 11 percent of males and 4 percent of females claimed to have forced someone else to have sex. Most of these had themselves been forced to have sex, suggesting a history of forced sex distorted perceptions about sexual violence.

One in three youth said they could be HIV positive, yet one in four of these had not even had sex, an indicator of ignorance of the mechanism of HIV infection, the authors said.

The authors concluded the youths' views of sexual violence and on the risk of HIV infection and AIDS were compatible with acceptance of sexual coercion and "adaptive" attitudes to survival in a violent society.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.


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