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Reaching urban female adolescents at key points of sexual and reproductive health transitions: evidence from a longitudinal study from Kenya

Ilene S. Speizer
Lisa M. Calhoun
David K. Guilkey


Urban areas include large numbers of adolescents (ages 15-19) and young adults (ages 20-24) who may have unmet sexual and reproductive health (SRH) needs. Worldwide, adolescents contribute 11% of births, many of which are in low and middle-income countries. This study uses recently collected longitudinal data from urban Kenyan women to examine the association between targeted intervention activities and adolescents‘ SRH transitions. The focus was on a female adolescent (15-19) sample and their transition to first sex and first pregnancy/birth. Multinomial logistic regression methods were used to examine whether exposure to program activities was associated with delays in transitions. Overall, a high percentage of adolescents were exposed to television activities with family planning messages. About a third were exposed to community events, program posters, or the Shujaaz comic book that included themes related to relationships and positive health outcomes using recognizable characters. Multivariate analyses found that exposure to the Shujaaz comic book was associated with remaining sexually inexperienced and never pregnant at end line. Future programs for urban adolescents should implement interventions that test novel media strategies, like the Shujaaz comic book, that may be more interesting for young people. Innovative strategies are needed to reach female adolescents in urban settings.

Keywords: Urban; Kenya; Sexual Initiation; Pregnancy; Adolescents

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eISSN: 1118-4841