HIV/AIDS at a South African University: Investigating the role of Walter Sisulu University's prevention role players and student behaviour at the Institute for Advanced Tooling

Saunderson, Ian P. (2013) HIV/AIDS at a South African University: Investigating the role of Walter Sisulu University's prevention role players and student behaviour at the Institute for Advanced Tooling. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis investigated perceptions of HIV/AIDS at the Walter Sisulu University (WSU), situated in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. The study focused on understanding opinions related to HIV/AIDS using data derived from interviews with twenty HIV/AIDS key role players from across the entire institution, and twenty students at the Institute for Advanced Tooling (IAT), a postgraduate section of the Mechanical Engineering Department in the
Faculty of Science, Engineering and Technology (FSET) in Chiselhurst, East London. A key concern of the study was to examine the way in which local cultural beliefs and practices may shape understandings in relation to HIV/AIDS and to help inform more sensitive prevention campaigns in the future.

The study, methodologically utilising Denzin’s concept of interpretative interactionism,and Giddens’ structuration theory, found that there was no single ‘cultural belief’ regarding health or related issues, but that cultural beliefs were always expressed in personal and contextual ways. The investigation into nutrition, health and general well-being and perceived causes of HIV/AIDS revealed that research informants subscribed to cultural beliefs for different reasons in personal constructs, and the study concluded that cultural issues surrounding these factors would need to be socially debated in intervention efforts.
Perceptions of gender, as the most significant factor, were highly contested, with differing beliefs expressed regarding female sexual agency. It was further stated by research informants that the ABC approach lacked contextual consideration of environmental factors. The thesis therefore argues that for effective preventative action, there is a necessity, firstly, for a health-enabling environment to be created that includes strategies
for alleviating nutritional deficiencies in a culturally contextual fashion. Second, based on the data, it was established that in relation to respondents’ orientation towards cultural beliefs, social HIV/AIDS debate programmes should be introduced in conjunction with health officials, the community and traditional healers in a peer-oriented approach. It was thirdly established that this approach should include addressing contextual factors from a
‘lived experience’ perspective, and that social positioning by the WSU should occur towards certain social issues (for example, constructions of gender) identified within this

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: HIV/AIDS, culture, Xhosa, interpretivism, South Africa, Walter Sisulu University
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Smith, Dr. A. and Watson, Prof. N.
Date of Award: 2013
Depositing User: Mr Ian / IP Saunderson
Unique ID: glathesis:2013-4574
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2013 08:20
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2013 08:20

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