Sexual Behavior of Adolescents In Contemporary Sub-Saharan Africa

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When AIDS emerged in the 1980s, it caught humankind by surprise with its pants down in a world of cultural diversity and prejudice. However, the death toll associated with this pandemic shifted the course of scientific research and programs from family planning to sexual health as scholars struggled to understand the implications of different forms of sexual behaviors on populations. Still, in the two decades that followed, the tendency has been to search selectively for evidence that confirms held beliefs. This book provides a perspective on adolescent sexual behavior in Africa that is based on the state-of-art research methodologies. Written by an international and interdisciplinary group of scientists and covering all sub-Saharan regions, this book is a truly pan-African volume on new research on adolescent sexual behavior. The papers in this volume show that Africa is a mosaic of cultures where local norms and values must be considered in order to successfully understand and manage the emerging sexual and reproductive health issues. With its ten chapters and various methodological approaches that include sample survey research, focus-groups, meta- analysis, and actual HIV testing, this book is certainly a very strong and timely reference book to students, researchers, policy- makers, and all those interested in sexual science in contemporary Africa.


“The dramatic spread of HIV / AIDS in many African populations, especially those in Southern Africa, has revolutionized the research paradigm for the study of adolescent fertility by redirecting attention to sexual behaviors. The critical issue now is the age at which adolescent girls initiate sexual activity, the characteristics and numbers of sexual partners, and the use of condoms for disease prevention. While contraceptive use and childbearing are still of interest, sexual behaviors, especially risky sexual behaviors, rather than reproductive behaviors are the critical research focus. This paradigmatic switch has not come easily to the population sciences, with initial research showing only sporadic progress and relatively little accumulation of knowledge. The research regarding HIV / AIDS has largely dramatized the problem of risky adolescent sexual behaviors, without providing the findings needed for the development of effective policies. Fortunately, in recent years, several researchers have brought unusual clarity to the study of adolescent sexual behaviors in Africa, and the extent to which the behaviors create high risk for HIV / AIDS infection. This research has been strongly descriptive, but has also developed strong analytic frameworks and research designs that promote the understanding of the dynamics of adolescent sexual behaviors among African women. This research draws attention to social, structural, ethnic, and cultural factors influencing the diminution of traditional constraints that limited sex to marriage. In this research, there is a tendency to treat young African women as individual decision makers, with their decisions constrained by their socio-cultural origins, their economic resources and opportunities, and their access to knowledge about the HIV / AIDS epidemic and individual risk. Yanyi K. Djamba brings together ten of the best examples of this new wave of research in this book. The articles include the most important recent publications, by multidisciplinary experts. Persons from different disciplines will have ready access to one or more of these papers in their original published form. But, without this book, few researchers and few students would have access to this compendium of knowledge about sexual behavior and HIV / AIDS risks in Africa. This study provides a state-of-the-art picture of adolescent sexual behaviors in all regions of sub-Saharan Africa, providing a unique scientific resource for students and researchers grappling with these issues and a solid scientific basis for the formulation of effective public policies.” – (from the Commendatory Preface) Dr. Dennis P. Hogan, Robert E. Turner Distinguished Professor of Population Studies and Professor of Sociology, Brown University

“Throughout much of Africa, data is accumulating that suggest a declining age of first sexual debut, increasing numbers of sexually active adolescents, and high-risk sexual behavior (use of multiple sexual partners, commercial sex, and poor use of contraceptives) among adolescents. However, despite this growing information, the existing data is often fragmentary and there has been little systematic effort to bring together experiences on the subject from various parts of Africa. Thus, this book that is devoted to the understanding of sexual behavior among adolescents in various parts of Africa is appropriate, timely and relevant … The book, which documents the results of studies into the sexual behavior of adolescents in many African countries, was segregated into three thematic parts: first, studies of the determinants of risky sexual behavior are reported from the Cameroon, Uganda and South Africa; second, the results of studies conducted in Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria and Zambia into the linkages between HIV, contraception, modernization and sex among adolescents and third, reports on the association between ethnicity, nationality and sexuality in Ghana and Democratic Republic of Congo as well as reviews on current literature on trends and differentials associated with sexual initiation among boys and girls in sub- Saharan African countries. The chapters are extremely well written, and provide excellent evidence-based information that is critically needed for designing effective adolescent reproductive health programs in Africa … In sum, this book addresses an important unmet need for reproductive health in Africa and is a vital resource for those working on improving adolescent sexual behavior and adolescent reproductive health in Africa. In documenting experiences on the subject from the perspectives of nine African countries, the authors have been able to demonstrate a centrality of themes affecting adolescent sexual behavior in much of Africa. Such centrality is useful for networking, experience sharing and discourses on adolescent sexual behavior and adolescent reproductive health among stakeholders in the continent. I rate the book very highly and recommend its widespread use and adoption.” – Friday Okonofua, Provost, College of Medical Sciences, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria Executive Director, Women's Health and Action Research, and Editor, African Journal of Reproductive Health

"Dr. Yanyi K. Djamba has performed a valuable service to scholars and practitioners in several fields with his new study. The book incorporates, for the first time in a single volume, ten recently-published essays by a truly international and interdisciplinary group of social and policy scientists. It thus vastly increases the accessibility of the major research findings on one of the most critical issues in contemporary applied population studies. The scope of the volume is truly pan-African, with chapters on Cameroon, Uganda, South Africa, Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria, Zambia, Ghana, and The Democratic Republic of Congo. Thus, the treatment is inherently comparative, as the author points out in his informative introductory essay. Yet, there is an underlying unity based upon two factors, one methodological and the other substantive. The methodological unity of the volume lies in the uniformly high quality of research design and (largely) quantitative analysis and reporting. The common substantive theme is the tragic fact of life in contemporary Africa: the rampant spread of STDs, especially the well-publicized AIDS epidemic in several countries … It would be difficult to imagine a book that is timelier or more important that this for those interested in population issues in Africa. Dr. Djamba and his colleagues have taken on a difficult and challenging set of problems. Obviously, neither they nor anyone who knows the situation would claim that they have solved these problems. However, this study clearly points in the correct direction toward a solution. For this, and for confronting directly one of the contemporary world's greatest social problems, they deserve considerable praise.” – Jay Weinstein, Professor and Head Department of Sociology Eastern Michigan University Chair, American Sociological Association on Sociological Practice

Table of Contents

Preface by Dennis P. Hogan
Introduction –Yanyi K. Djamba
Part One -Determinants of Risky Sexual Behavior
1. Sexual Risk Behaviors Among Young People in Bamenda, Cameroon – Mburano Rwenge
2. Perceptions of the Risks of Sexual Activity and Their Consequences Among Ugandan Adolescents – Louise A. Hulton, Rachel Cullen, and Symons Wamala
3. Unsafe Sexual Behavior in South African Youth – Liberty Eaton, Alan J. Flisher, and Leif E. Aarø
Part Two –HIV, Contraception, Modernization, and Sex
4. HIV Prevalence and Socio-cultural Contexts of Sexuality Among Youth in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Negussie Taffa, Johanne Sundby, Carol Holm-Hansen, and Gunnar Bjune
5. Timing of First Intercourse Among Malian Adolescents: Implications for Contraceptive Use – Mouhamadou Gueye, Sarah Castle, and Mamadou Kani Konaté
6. Sexual Activity and Contraceptive Use Among Female Adolescents: A Report from Port Harcourt, Nigeria – Anthony O.U. Okpani and Judith Uzoma Okpani
7. Modernization and Teenage Sexual Activity in Zambia: A Multinomial Logit Model – Vijayan K. Pillai and Thomas R. Barton
Part Three -Kinship, Nationality, and Sexuality
8. Ethnicity and Sexual Behavior in Ghana – Isaac Addai
9. Social Capital and Premarital Sexual Activity in Africa: The Case of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo – Yanyi K. Djamba
10. Sexual Initiation Among Adolescent Girls and Boys: Trends and Differentials in Sub-Saharan Africa – Neeru Gupta and Mary Mahy

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