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Burkina Faso, Ghana, Zambia: Community Influences on Young People's Sexual Behavior in Three African Countries

January 6, 2009

The current study sought to examine the role of community-level factors in the reporting of risky sexual behaviors among people ages 15-24 in Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Zambia -- three African countries with varying HIV prevalence rates.

From 2001 through 2003, demographic and health survey data were analyzed to identify individual, household, and community factors associated with reports of risky sexual behaviors.

"The mechanisms through which the community environment shaped sexual behaviors varied among young men and young women," the researcher explained. While community demographic profiles were not associated with risky behavior reports among young women, they were influential in shaping the behavior of young men. Prevailing economic conditions and the behaviors and attitudes of adults in the community strongly influenced young people's sexual behaviors.

"These results provide strong support for a focus on community-level influences as an intervention point for behavioral change," Stephenson concluded. "Such interventions, however, should recognize specific cultural settings and the different pathways through which the community can shape the sexual behaviors of young men and women."

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Excerpted from:
Am Journal of Public Health
01.09.09; Vol. 99; No. 1: P. 102-109; Rob Stephenson, Ph.D.

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