Sexuality Research and Social Policy

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 301–316 | Cite as

Multiple and Concurrent Sex Partnerships and Social Norms: Young Adults’ Sexual Relationships in the Metropolitan Communities of Cape Town, South Africa

  • Byela TibesigwaEmail author
  • Martine Visser


Even though antiretroviral treatment is becoming more efficient and available, new HIV infections still occur, and this is particularly evident in the sub-Saharan Africa region. Heterosexual intercourse is still the main mode of HIV transmission in the region, and multiple and concurrent sex partners are arguably crucial for the spread of the epidemic. It is therefore problematic that sexual risk-taking, in terms of multiple and concurrent sex partners, persists in spite of HIV awareness and knowledge. This study examines the role of social norms on multiple and concurrent sex partnerships using longitudinal data of young adults residing in the metropolitan communities of Cape Town in South Africa. Overall, our results show that the social norms related to multiple and concurrent sex partners, in the community, have a positive and significant influence on young adults’ choice of sex partners. This effect appears to be stronger amongst male young adults, than female young adults.


HIV/AIDS Social norms Multiple and concurrent sex partnerships 



We are grateful for helpful comments from anonymous reviewers. We also gratefully acknowledge valuable input from Andrea Mannberg from the Department of Economics, Umeå University, SE-901 87 Umeå, Sweden and Mintewab Bezabih from the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science Tower 3, Clements Inn Passage, London WC2A 2AZ


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Economics, University of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa

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