Date Published: August 21, 2018
Publisher: Springer US
Author(s): Lebohang Letsela, Renay Weiner, Mitzy Gafos, Katherine Fritz.
South Africa has high rates of HIV prevalence and incidence and very high binge drinking rates amongst youth. GIS mapping of alcohol outlets and participatory research methods were used to explore and understand youth’s perception of alcohol availability and marketing, and their associated risks for HIV and sexual violence. Twenty seven youth 18–24 years from an urban and rural area participated in the study. There was high density of alcohol outlets at both sites with 97% within 500 m radius to a school; 76% of outlets had alcohol advertising signage on the exterior. Youth reported that alcohol is easily accessible to them. Alcohol advertising and marketing are appealing and entice them to consume alcohol, including binge drinking. Young women reported exposure to unsafe and transactional sex, and sexual violence at alcohol outlets. Effective policies are needed to regulate alcohol availability and marketing to youth.
High HIV prevalence and high levels of alcohol misuse continue to be major public health concerns in South Africa, with youth experiencing particular vulnerability to both [1, 2]. South Africa continues to have the highest burden of HIV infection worldwide [3, 4], with an estimated one-fifth of women of reproductive age infected .
This study of alcohol, youth and sexual health risk provides insight into the community context within which youth drinking takes place in rural and urban communities in South Africa. The results of the study provide substantial evidence that young people have easy access to alcohol in their communities. Facilitated by a combination of the high density of alcohol outlets, close proximity of outlets to schools and unrestricted entry to alcohol serving venues, this availability fuels early initiation and unsafe drinking and is in conflict with both WHO recommendations and South African legislation.