Socializing influences and the value of sex: The experience of adolescent school girls in rural Masaka, Uganda.
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In order to explore the socializing influences which have shaped rural adolescent schoolgirls' views and values about sex in a high HIV prevalence area of Uganda, detailed qualitative data was obtained over a one year period from 15 schoolgirls (aged 14-17), chosen for their willingness to participate actively in a series of role plays, focus group discussions (FGD) and one-to-one interviews. Findings suggest that the girls have been subjected to a wide range of influences, including parents, social functions, other young children, nature, their ssengas, peers, school, and various media, such as pornography. There was disagreement about the relative values of sex and virginity. Some were determined to retain their virginity, but the majority felt that sex benefits them socially and personally. Peer pressure was a major factor shaping many girls' opinions, while traditional influences are in decline. Because of the small sample size, care should be taken in generalizing from the findings. However, the data suggest that sex has a high value for at least a substantial minority of adolescent girls in rural Masaka, Uganda. Policy makers and health educators should therefore consider how best to devise safe sex messages that are both relevant and applicable to this especially vulnerable group.