Perceptions of students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, regarding factors influencing high fertility rates among young people.
Fertility among young people has increased globally and is a major concern, particularly in developing countries. Sub-Saharan Africa is a region that is greatly affected by poverty; HIV/AIDS and an increasing population. Young people are engaging in unprotected sex and this not only increases their risk of having an unplanned pregnancy, but also increases the risk of them contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. In Southern Africa, pregnancy rates among young people are high even though total fertility rates have declined. Many interventions have been implemented to directly address this issue; however, it is perplexing as to why pregnancy rates among young people are so high. Studies have indicated that there are many factors that influence unplanned pregnancy rates among young people. The aim of this dissertation is to understand the reasons for high fertility rates among young people in South Africa. This study draws on qualitative methodology using in-depth interviews with 20 female students at a tertiary institution in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. Students interviewed presented a number of reasons for the high levels of pregnancy among young people. The study findings highlighted that young women have knowledge of contraception and are aware of the importance of contraception in preventing an unplanned pregnancy; however, contraception is being practiced inconsistently and incorrectly. Students are more afraid of the risk of an unplanned pregnancy than HIV/AIDS. Poor interpersonal relations with health service providers were perceived as a common barrier preventing young women from accessing contraception at the local clinics. Furthermore, the interviews suggest that peers exert an enormous influence over young people.
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