Sexual scripting of heterosexual penile-anal intercourse amongst participants in an HIV prevention trial in South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe

Article

Focus Areas: Health & Wellness

Sexual risk-taking is influenced by individual, interpersonal and social factors. This paper presents findings from a qualitative follow-up study to a clinical trial evaluating biomedical HIV prevention products among African women, explored participants’ perceptions and experiences of heterosexual penile-anal intercourse, as well as the gendered power dynamics and relationship contexts in which this sexual behaviour occurs. In-depth interviews were conducted with 88 women from South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Findings reveal that despite its social stigmatisation, women engage in penile-anal intercourse for reasons including male pleasure, relationship security, hiding infidelity, menstruation, vaginal infections, money and beliefs that it will prevent HIV transmission. In addition, participants described experiences of non-consensual penile-anal intercourse. We used sexual scripting theory as an analytical framework with which to describe the sociocultural and relationship contexts and gendered power dynamics in which these practices occur. These data on the distinct individual, dyadic and social contexts of heterosexual penile-anal intercourse, and the specific factors that may contribute to women’s HIV risk, make a unique contribution to our understanding of heterosexual behaviour in these sub-Saharan countries, thereby helping to inform both current and future HIV prevention efforts for women in the region.

Duby, Z., Hartmann, M., Montgomery, E., Colvin, C. J., Mensch, B., & Van Der Straten, A. (2016). Sexual scripting of heterosexual penile-anal intercourse amongst participants in an HIV prevention trial in South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 18(1), 30-44. DOI: 10.1080/13691058.2015.1064165

Experts

Ariane van der Straten

"I hope that my work will contribute towards the end of the HIV pandemic & the empowerment of women globally."

Elizabeth Montgomery

"I think my work is interesting and challenging, and most importantly, I have an incredible network of smart, talented colleagues in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Kenya and Uganda – many of whom I consider to be friends."

Miriam A. Hartmann

"I most enjoy working with my passionate & excited colleagues. I enjoy opening their eyes to new issues & seeing how they take on the mission of improving gender equity in their own way."