Partner Communication and Decision-Making Regarding Sexual Issues among Students in a South African University

Eunice Allen Sunday, Emeka E Obioha


Young people are faced with high levels of HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancy in South Africa. Thus it is important to understand partner communication and shared reproductive decision-making process with regard to these sexual risks. The study draws on in-depth interviews conducted with 20 Black students aged 18 to 24 years at the Walter Sisulu University. The study found that many young people engaged in risky sexual behaviors. Differing cultural norms that set different standards for men and women discouraged partner communication and shared decision-making and seemed to significantly promote risky sex. The study suggests that men often dominated the decision-making process. In addition, partner coercion was prevalent, and it negatively affected the health choices of young people. Young people were afraid to freely discuss sexual issues and preferred actions to avoid antagonizing partners who might suspect infidelity, lack of commitment and HIV infection. Moreover, the cues used to communication their sexual desires and concerns would at times be misunderstood. Given the negative repercussions of sexual risks; it is important that in addition to creating greater awareness of the risks and adopting prevention strategies; health promotion interventions that go beyond risk awareness and incorporate the cultural, social and economic contexts in which partner communication and shared decision making should be encouraged.


Partner communication, shared-decision making, health promotion, sexual behaviors

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ISSN: 2062-087X

DOI: 10.14267/issn.2062-087X