Is Poverty a Driver for Risky Sexual Behavior? Evidence from Surveys of Adolescents in Four African Countries
Nyovani Madise, African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)
Eliya M. Zulu, African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)
James Ciera, African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)
Recent evidence has found a positive association between wealth and HIV prevalence, thus challenging the belief that poverty is a driver for risky sexual behaviour and HIV/AIDS. In this paper, we analyse data of adolescents aged 12-19 years from Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi, and Uganda to examine differentials, using wealth quintiles, of the average age at sexual debut, number of sexual partners, and condom use at last sex after adjusting for factors such as ethnicity, religion, rural/urban residence and age. The results show that a positive association between poverty and early sexual debut is observed in Burkina Faso but not in the other countries and the mean number of sexual partners in Ghana is highest among the wealthiest and lowest among the poorest. The results underscore the need to re-examine the assumption that poverty drives risky sexual behaviour so that policies/programs to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS are evidence-based.