n Indilinga African Journal of Indigenous Knowledge Systems - The role of culture in sexual health dialogue : an issue in the fight against sexually transmitted infections including HIV and AIDS




Dialogue about sexual health is a global concern especially in this era of a HIV and AIDS epidemic as most of the time it is found to be minimal, if not absent. This limitation is influenced by cultural values, beliefs and norms that are shared by the people within a specific community. To a great extent, culture influences what and how sexual health issues can be discussed between members of the communities, especially between children and adults. There are different cultural practices practiced by different ethnic groups, which predispose people to sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and AIDS. The article is based on the study that intended to explore and describe the extent to which culture influences dialogue about sexual health and cultural practices affecting sexual health within communities in Vhembe District of Limpopo Province. A qualitative, explorative, descriptive and contextual research approach was used. Data was collected by means of in-depth individual interviews and focus-group discussions. A purposive sampling method was used to select the forty-seven informants, eight for indepth individual interviews and thirty-nine for focus group discussions. The findings of the study indicated that there was minimal dialogue about sexual health between adults and children. Most informants indicated how cultural norms stand in the way of dialogue about sexual health within communities, especially the rural areas. The study revealed that sexual health topics are mostly discussed in initiation schools, usually with delegated members of the family, who most often are aunts. It was also noted that these teachings were often a once off talk where the child is always a passive recipient of information and his / her views were not considered. The findings also reflected that there are cultural practices which promote the spread of sexually transmitted infections such as HIV and AIDS. Recommendations related to how dialogue can be initiated are reflected in the article.


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