Gender, relative poverty, and orphan hood as factors for youth HIV risk behaviours in South Africa

Kelly Hallman, Population Council

The burden of new HIV infections in developing countries currently falls most heavily on young females. Even with knowledge of how to protect oneself, it may not be usable by those who are economically and socially disempowered. Using 2001 data, I investigate in a multivariate framework the influences of poverty and orphanhood on the sexual behaviours of 4,000 female and male adolescents in KwaZulu-Natal. Relative poverty significantly increases female odds of exchanged and forced sex and multiple sexual partners; it reduces female age at sexual debut and condom use at last sex, and male and female discussion of safe sex with recent partners; it also increases pregnancy risk. Controlling for poverty, female and male orphans debut earlier sexually and are less likely to discuss safe sex with recent partners. Among paternal orphans, females have older sexual partners and higher odds of early pregnancy; males have lower odds of secondary abstinence.

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Presented in Session 49: Adolescent reproductive health