Culture and Gender-Related Factors Predicting HIV-Risk Sexual Behaviors
Kiirya, Stephen K.
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The current study explored HIV-risk sexual behaviors (early coital debut, coital contact with genital ulcers, coital contact with STD, coital contact with persons suspected to have HIV/AIDS or engage in prostitution, coital contact for monetary rewards, multiple partnerships, condom use, and premarital pregnancies/abortions) as well as socio-demographic factors which may be predicting them among adolescents and young adults in Iganga district. Methods A sample of 1021 subjects was selected through multi-staged, systematic and purposive sampling processes. A pre-tested sexual behavior questionnaire (SBQ) for measuring HIV-risk sexual behaviors was administered to a sample of 620 adolescents (320 females and 300 males) and 401 young adults (193 females and 208 males). The SBQ yielded content validity index (CVI) of .85 at pre-testing. In order to complement data collected using the SBQ, interview and focused group discussions (FGDs) were also done with teachers, service providers, parent/elders, religious leaders, cultural/clan leaders, community development officers, adolescent females and males, and young adult males and females. Altogether, eight FGD and 11 in-depth interview sessions were conducted. Analysis was done using linear regression models, Pearson correlation test and t-test for independent groups together with analytical arrangement of qualitative subject matter. Results HIV-risk sexual behaviors vary with sex, age, residence, education and marital status of respondents, and the female, younger, rural, least educated and married respondents are the groups that exhibit significantly higher levels of most of the HIV-risk sexual behaviors investigated. This is associated with the fast growth of females and the strong perception that males in the same age bracket are immature. Also, younger individuals are often curious to know how it feels to venture sex. And like rural, uneducated and married individuals, they rarely have access to HIV/AIDS preventive information, education and care. This further undermines their ability to appreciate and avoid these HIV-risk sexual behaviors. Culture and gender-related factors such as cultural belief that abstinence leads to gradual loss of sexual potency, society ostracism of those who delay sex and child bearing, and low socioeconomic status of women also promote early coital debut, partner change, unprotected sex and coital contact was monetary rewards. Conclusion Sex, age, residence, level of education and marital status significantly predict early coital debut, partner change, unprotected sex and coital contact was monetary rewards. However, these modeled variables also interact with a range of gender, culture, biological, psychological and socioeconomic factors to influence these HIV-risk behaviors. In view of this understanding, programs that aim at uplifting the socioeconomic welfare of the females, adolescents, married and least educated together with those that tackle values associated with such behaviors merit consideration. More research is also needed to determine any links between other ecological factors (poverty, early maturation, being in the company of a sexually active friend and restrictive family conditions) and the various HIV risk sexual behaviors.