Looking to the future: South African men and women negotiating HIV risk and relationship intimacy

Cult Health Sex. 2011 May;13(5):589-602. doi: 10.1080/13691058.2011.560965.


This paper examines the approaches heterosexual men and women in South Africa use to engage their partners in discussions of HIV and risk factors in their relationships. These strategies entail balancing the risks of infection while managing the challenges of maintaining a relationship. In a context in which there is a great deal of insecurity in relationships it is especially challenging to discuss HIV risks with partners. Our findings reveal that concerns about children or the desire to have children provided a legitimate basis for discussing HIV risk with partners. The focus of these discussions is on the future for their children. Research in South Africa should attend to men's and women's desires to have and to raise children. HIV prevention and treatment programmes can capitalise on concerns regarding children, and the future of the family, to engage men and women in discussing mutually acceptable strategies for preventing infection and ensuring safe conception.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • HIV Infections / psychology
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • Health Behavior
  • Heterosexuality / psychology
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Negotiating / psychology*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sexuality / psychology*
  • South Africa / epidemiology
  • Young Adult