International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Youth, HIV/AIDS Risks and Sexuality in Contemporary Ghana: Examining the Gap between Awareness and Behaviour Change
John Kuumuori Ganle, Eva Tagoe-Darko, Charlotte Monica Mensah

Three decades of HIV/AIDS prevention among the youth in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has not significantly eliminated the risk of HIV infection in this group.Using anthropological research techniques of focus group discussions (FGDs) andin-depth interviews, this paper reports the findings of original research conducted among a representative sample of high school students in the Upper West Region (UWR) of Ghana. The research sought to better understand what ideas, beliefs and perceptions the youth hold about HIV/AIDS and Sex, and how these influence their HIV/AIDS risk construction and translation of knowledge of HIV/AIDS prevention into safe health practices. Findings reveal that awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic among the youth is relatively high. However, in addition to totally rejecting the existence of AIDS in their communities, majority of young people still hold serious misconceptions about the disease. These misconceptions, coupled with a pervasive sense of personal invulnerability, optimistic bias, denialism, the celebration of sex and multiple sexual relations among young people, and society-wide gender based discrimination against young women, have acted to mediate (rather negatively) the process of young people’s HIV/AIDS risk construction. Consequently, many continue to systematically underestimate their own risk of infection and engage in behaviours that contribute to high HIV infection.

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