Understanding polyamory as a form of concurrency to enhance HIV programmes in South Africa: The need to re-conceptualize the partner reduction policy


  • Stanley Molefi Post Doctoral Research Fellow, Dept of Social Work and Criminology, University of Pretoria
  • Priscilla Gutura Senior Lecturer, Department of Social Work and Criminology, University of Pretoria
  • Linda Eskell-Blokland Acting Head of Department, Student Counselling Unit, University of Pretoria




A conceptual framework derived from three inter-related theories of social cognitive theory, constructivism and the meaning-making model, was used to investigate the group of relations between polyamorous relationships, safer sex practices and HIV. Using purposive sampling seven participants who were in polyamorist relationships in three provinces in South Africa: Gauteng, Cape Town and Northern Cape were interviewed to collect data. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was employed as the data analysis method. The findings of this study revealed that many of the participants who were involved in polyamorous relationships were concerned about their health and well-being. Therefore, in most of these relationships, the participants required of their secondary partners to disclose their HIV status and also test for STDs. Also, in all of the participants’ polyamorous relationships there were sexual rules and agreements that were set up in order to limit exposure to HIV. Furthermore, high level of communication strategies was employed to improve honesty and trust among all of the partners involved. The coping strategies that were adopted by all of these participants in order to deal with familial and societal rejection of their involvement in concurrency included forming psycho-social support networks. These findings show that there is a need to re-conceptualize the partner reduction policy in order to accommodate the perspectives and needs of people who are involved in concurrent partnerships. Further, social work is called upon to be aware and sensitive to polyamorous relationship in both education and practice.


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How to Cite

Molefi, S. ., Gutura, P., & Eskell-Blokland, L. (2022). Understanding polyamory as a form of concurrency to enhance HIV programmes in South Africa: The need to re-conceptualize the partner reduction policy. The Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning, 19(1-2). https://doi.org/10.1921/jpts.v19i1-2.1675