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Young South African women are three times more likely to be infected with HIV than men in the same age group, a new study has revealed.

The Feminist Majority Foundation reports on the study, which involved anonymously testing 12,000 South Africans for HIV, the precursor to AIDS.

Of those aged between 15 and 24, 15.5 per cent of women tested positive, compared to only 4.8 per cent of men.

Factors that ramped up the risk of infection include: a larger number of sexual partners, older sexual partners and inconsistent condom use.

Both young women and men who had participated in an AIDS-prevention programme, which emphasises frank communication about sex and responsible sexual behaviour, were less likely than their peers to be HIV positive.