Adolescents’ Knowledge About, Use of and Barriers to Sexual and Reproductive Health Information and Services in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi and Uganda

Ann E. Biddlecom, Guttmacher Institute
Alister Munthali, University of Malawi
Susheela D. Singh, Guttmacher Institute
Vanessa Woog, Guttmacher Institute

Current evidence of adolescents’ knowledge about, use of and barriers to sexual and reproductive health information and services highlights promising directions and persistent challenges in preventing pregnancy and treating sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV among young people. This paper draws on data from nationally-representative, household-based surveys in 2004 of 12-19 year olds in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi and Uganda. Results show that adolescents get sexual and reproductive health information from a range of sources, particularly mass media, friends and teachers/schools. Yet only about one in two sexually-experienced adolescents have ever used a modern contraceptive method (mainly male condom) and 4-10% ever had an HIV test. A substantial proportion of sexually-experienced adolescents do not know of any source to obtain contraceptive methods, get STI treatment or get an HIV test. Social-psychological reasons (e.g., embarrassment or fear) and financial cost remain common barriers to getting these types of services in all four countries.

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Presented in Session 132: Approaches for Reaching Youth with RH/FP and HIV/AIDS Information and Services