Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 53, Issue 6, pp 1662–1675 | Cite as

Young People, Sexuality, and HIV Prevention Within Christian Faith Communities in South Africa: A Cross-Sectional Survey

  • Elisabet Eriksson
  • Gunilla Lindmark
  • Beverley Haddad
  • Pia Axemo
Original Paper


Faith communities exert a powerful influence on the life of their members, and studies are needed about how they may be able to influence young people’s attitudes regarding sexuality and HIV prevention. Data were collected through a self-administered questionnaire from young people (811), aged 15–24 years, affiliated to the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church and the Assemblies of God. The majority of participants perceived themselves at risk of HIV infection (53 %). Premarital sexual abstinence was the most frequently (88 %) reported prevention message, followed by faithfulness (23 %), HIV testing (18 %) and condom use (17 %). Furthermore, religious affiliation was associated with education on sexuality and HIV in youth groups, with better information given to members of the Lutheran and Catholic churches. Faith communities need to strengthen their capacity to educate young people in a more holistic way about sexuality and HIV prevention.


Young people Sexuality HIV prevention Christianity Sub-Saharan Africa 



This study was made possible by grants from the Research Department of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. We would like to thank the leadership in each denomination for their approval of the study, and the young people for their participation.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elisabet Eriksson
    • 1
  • Gunilla Lindmark
    • 1
  • Beverley Haddad
    • 2
  • Pia Axemo
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, International Maternal and Child Health (IMCH), University HospitalUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.School of Religion, Philosophy and ClassicsUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalPietermaritzburgSouth Africa

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