Gender differentials in sexual initiation among adolescents in Zambia
The purpose of the present study was to assess gender differentials in factors influencing sexual initiation among adolescents in Zambia. Data employed in this study was derived from the 2013 Zambia Demographic Health Survey. Logistic regression analysis was used to identify gender differentials in sexual initiation by considering socio-economic variables. The data revealed that about 22 per cent of the female and 32.6 per cent of males reported having had sex by the age of 15 years old. About 49.5 per cent of the female and 54.9 per cent of the males reported having had sex by the age of 18 years old. Logistic regression analysis identified age, religion, residence, wealth status, working status, educational level, watching television and drinking alcohol as strong predictors of respondent’s likelihood of sexual initiation by the age of 15 years old. The study found that male youths who drank alcohol were 1.4 times more likely to be sexually active by the age of 15 years old compared to those who did not drink alcohol. Female youths who were working were 1.4 times more likely to report having had sex by the age of 15 years old and those who drank alcohol were 1.3 times more likely to report been sexually active by the age of 15 years old. This study is in agreement with other African and western based studies which have shown that socioeconomic and demographic variables have a significant influence on early sexual initiation among adolescents in Zambia. Interventions that seek to prevent HIV and AIDS and unwanted pregnancies among adolescents through regulation of sexual behaviour would need to seriously account for socio-demographic and economic influences.
Keywords: Gender differentials, sexual initiation, youth, Zambia
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