Continuing Medical Education

Understanding and responding to HIV risk in young South African women: Clinical perspectives

Rachael Dellar, Aliza Waxman, Quarraisha Abdool Karim

Abstract


Young women (15 - 24 years) contribute a disproportionate 24% to all new HIV infections in South Africa – more than four times that of
their male peers. HIV risk in young women is driven by amplifying cycles of social, behavioural and biological vulnerability. Those most
likely to acquire infection are typically from socioeconomically deprived households in high HIV-prevalence communities, have limited or
no schooling, engage in transactional sex or other high-risk coping behaviours, and have a history of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
and/or pregnancy. Despite the imperative to prevent HIV acquisition in young women, there is a dearth of evidence-based interventions to
do so. However, there are several steps that healthcare workers can take to improve outcomes for this key population at the individual level.
These include being able to identify high HIV-risk young women, ensuring that they receive the maximum social support they are eligible
for, providing reliable and non-judgemental counselling on sexual and reproductive health and relationships, delivering contraceptives and
screening and treating STIs in the context of accessible, youth-friendly services.


Authors' affiliations

Rachael Dellar, Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa; Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

Aliza Waxman, Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

Quarraisha Abdool Karim, Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa; Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, USA

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Keywords

HIV; Young South African women

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2015;105(11):952. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2015.v105i11.10099

Article History

Date submitted: 2015-09-23
Date published: 2015-10-12

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