Sexual Behaviour and the Risks of HIV/AIDS and other STDs among Young People in Sub-Saharan Africa: a Review

  • Chuks J. Mba Regional Institute of Population Studies, University of Ghana.


Reproductive health problems present one of the greatest threats facing youth in sub-Saharan Africa today, in addition to political and economic insecurity. Although pre-marital sex is condemned in many African societies, and young, unmarried people, especially young women, are not expected to be sexually active, the gap between expected and actual behaviour is enormous. In particular, there is almost a universal gap between age at first sexual intercourse and age at first marriage across sub-Saharan Africa. A substantial proportion of young girls are sexually active, sometimes with multiple partners. Available evidence indicates more than 50 percent of all mothers in sub-Saharan Africa are in the age group 15-19 years, and in some settings, the youth are initiated into sexual activity as early as age 12 (girls) and 13 (boys). All these have a direct correlation with reproductive health problems, including HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases. Governments in the region should play a leading role in putting the reality of youth sexuality into public consciousness and political agenda.
Key Words: Sexual behaviour, activity, sex, HIV, AIDS, young people, sub-Saharan Africa.

(Institute of African Studies Research Review: 2003 19(1): 15-26)

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eISSN: 0855-4412
print ISSN: 0855-4412