Sexual assault, sexual risks and gender attitudes in a community sample of South African men

  • Kalichman S
  • Simbayi L
  • Cain D
 et al. 
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Sexual assault against women and HIV infection are both prevalent and related social problems in South Africa. The current study examined hostile attitudes toward women, acceptance of violence against women and masculine ideological beliefs in relation to sexual assault history among men in a Cape Town township in South African. Men (n=435) completed anonymous surveys of sexual assault history, HIV risk history and gender-based attitudes. More than one in five men in this community sample reported that they had either threatened to use force or used force to gain sexual access to a woman in their lifetime. Men with a history of sexual assault were at significantly higher risk for HIV transmission than their non-sexually assaultive counterparts. Men with a history of sexual assault were also more likely to endorse hostile attitudes toward women and were more likely to accept violence against women, although these attitudes and beliefs were prevalent and pervasive across men with and without histories of sexual assault. These findings extend previous research to show that men who have a history of sexual assault also exhibit elevated risks for HIV infection and transmission. Interventions are needed to address hostile attitudes toward women, sexual assault and sexual risks for HIV among South African men.

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