Main Article Content
University and college students fall within the age range of 15-24 years, the age group which is categorized as vulnerable to high rates of HIV infection and risky sexual practices. However, few studies on risky sexual behaviour have been conducted with college students in South Africa. The objectives of the study were to assess the risky sexual behaviors, HIV risk perceptions, and consistent condom use of students at Technical Vocational Education and Training colleges (TVET). A cross-sectional survey was conducted among students recruited from twelve TVET colleges using a structured self-administered questionnaire. Bivariate and multivariate analysis were computed using Stata software package version 13. Of the 3,674 students who participated in the survey, 2,947 (80.7%) reported being sexually active, and 2,408 (73.6%) had sex in the last three months. Over a third (n=1,096, 34%) reported multiple partnerships in the last 12 months, and more male students (n=699, 64%) reported multiple sexual partnerships. Over two-thirds (n=1,821, 66.6%) reported condom use during the last sexual intercourse, and only half (n=1,624, 52.7%) reported consistent condom use. A high proportion (n=2,589, 78.8%) can ask a partner to use a condom, and 1,632 (53.7%) would refuse sex without a condom. More male students 416 (52.3%) would not refuse sex when a condom is not used. Three quarters (n=2,709, 74%) had ever tested for HIV and 2,121 (65.2%) know their partner’s HIV status. A high proportion (n=2,909, 83.4%) of the students perceived themselves at risk of HIV infection, and male students were less likely to report high-risk perceptions. The high occurrence of risky sexual behaviours increased the students’ vulnerability to HIV infection. Intervention programs to prevent the spread of HIV in higher education institutions should take into consideration the gender differences in risky sexual behaviour observed among the students.