CHIL: Understanding alcohol risk, sexual risk, and intimate partner violence risk among university students

Project Details

This CHIL project addresses alcohol-related sexual risk, a critical issue affecting the health of university students in South Africa.  Commonly the most at-risk population in South Africa are those between the ages of 18-29. In rural provinces like Limpopo, traditional gender roles are expected in that girls and women should avoid sex and drinking, but these traditions are likely more relaxed in the university setting.  

On this project, students learn how to interview people about sensitive topics such as sexual behaviors, intimate partner violence, alcohol use, sexual assault, HIV, unintended pregnancy, and to modify approaches to fit local cultures.  Individual interviews, focus groups, and discussion groups with students, along with stakeholders such as student leaders, faculty, local residents, and others will inform the development of recommendations and potentially, prevention interventions to minimize the risk of alcohol-related sexual risks.  Additionally, the team is testing a survey instrument that can be translated and used for larger scale administration in village and urban settings in Limpopo in subsequent years that will assist us to characterize the rate of risk for alcohol-exposed pregnancies in the province.  The 2017 study uses mixed methods including qualitative interviews, quantitative measures assessing thoughts from the perspectives of both sexes.

This project will generate new information on the epidemiology of alcohol risks, sexual risks, risk for alcohol-exposed pregnancy, and related issues among an understudied population of South Africans.  The ultimate goal is to identify the need for prevention and intervention to reduce the risks of alcohol-related sexual risks broadly in the population, and to develop culturally-tailored preventive interventions suitable for these needs.


Project History

This project is the most recent to grow out of the larger CHIL initiative in Limpopo, South Africa and capitalizes on a significant ongoing research program at UVA that has developed evidence based interventions that reduce the risk of alcohol-exposed pregnancy.



This project partners with the University of Venda and local communities in Thohoyandou. The student team has established a new collaborative relationship with the Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Program, which provides resources for people who has suffered intimate partner and gender-based violence.