Family communication about HIV/AIDS and sexual behaviour among senior secondary school students in Accra, Ghana

  • Samuel Adu-Mireku Department of Social Sciences, Fayetteville State University, 1200 Murchison Roa


Background: Sexually active adolescents in Ghana are increasingly at risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. As a primary agent of socialization, the family can exert a strong influence on adolescent sexual behaviour. Therefore, to aid in the design and implementation of effective prevention programmes, it is important to understand the role of the family in influencing sexual behaviour among school-going adolescents.
Objectives: To evaluate the relationship between family communications about HIV/AIDS and sexual activity and condom use among school-going adolescents in Accra, Ghana.
Method: A sample of 894 students (56.9% girls, 43.1% boys; mean age = 17.4 years, SD = 1.40) at two senior secondary schools in Accra completed a modified version of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) questionnaire, a self-administered instrument developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Analytical techniques utilized included logistic regression and chi-square.
Results: Twenty-five percent of the participants reported being sexually experienced, and 73.6% had talked about HIV/AIDS with parents or other family members. Of the sexually experienced students, 64.7% initiated first sexual intercourse by age 16; and 55.7% did not use a condom at last sexual intercourse. Bivariate analysis showed significant gender differences in sexual activity, condom use, and family communication about HIV/AIDS. Logistic regression analysis showed that student-family communication about HIV/AIDS was not associated with sexual activity. However, communication about HIV/AIDS between students and parents or other family members increased the odds of using a condom at last sexual intercourse.
Conclusions: The findings of this study suggest that prevention programmes that seek to educate Ghanaian school-going adolescents about sexual risk behaviour must strongly encourage communication about HIV/AIDS between students and family members.

Key words: Ghana, adolescent health, risky sexual behaviour, condom use, gender differences.

African Health Sciences 2003; 3(1): 7 - 14

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eISSN: 1680-6905