Why are Virgin Adolescents Worried about Contracting HIV/AIDS? Evidence from Four Sub-Saharan African Countries
Whether well founded or not, perceptions of one’s own HIV risk have been shown by health behavior models to be an important factor in determining individuals’ sexual behavior. Although empirical studies on the determinants of HIV risk perception exist, only a few have focused on adolescents who are not yet sexually active. Using data from nationally- representative surveys of adolescents, we assess the factors associated with HIV risk perception among sexually inactive adolescents in four sub-Saharan African countries at different stages of the HIV/AIDS epidemic (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi and Uganda). The results show that there is no single influence on adolescents’ HIV risk perception, but rather a range of individual, environmental and community factors such as schooling, knowledge about HIV, regional HIV prevalence and adolescents’ social networks. These results can help better calibrate programs and policies addressing sexual and reproductive health issues among adolescents, a group that is disproportionately affected by new HIV infections. Afr J Reprod Health 2013 (Special Edition); 17: 32-50).
Keywords: HIV/AIDS, risk perception, ordered logistic analysis, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi, Uganda