Introduction: The possibility of an AIDS free generation cannot be realized unless we are able to prevent HIV infection in young women. Therefore, information on sexual behaviour could help to mitigate the spread of HIV/AIDS by developing effective prevention strategies. Global estimates show decline HIV prevalence among young people, little is known about the burden of HIV and AIDS and how their needs for HIV prevention, care and treatments have been addressed. In Zambia, HIV and AIDS prevalence among the girls is still high (8.8%) compared to boys of the same age (4.3%) and many young people women engage in sexually activities very early with partners who are five years their senior and who may already have had a number of sexual partners.
Aim: The aim of the study wasto explore sexual behaviour among women aged 15 -25 years.
Study Design: Qualitative study.
Place and Duration of the Study: Nangoma mission hospital catchment area in Central province, and Chikankata Hospital catchment area in Chikankata district of Southern Province.
Methodology: We conducted 8 focus group discussions with 72 participants. The discussions were conducted using the same topic guide for all the groups, transcribed and subjected to framework analysis.
Results: The study findings indicate that many young women were sexually active and initiated sexual activity at an early age. Factors that contributed to early initiation of sexual activities include fear of rejection by stable partners, betrothals, coercion into marriages by guardians, incest, lack of negotiation skills with sexual partners and poverty. Many participants’ sexual partners at first intercourse were more than five years older than themselves. Some of the study participants had multiple sexual partners due to various factors such as curiosity, fear of partner violence, lack of assertiveness, sign of beauty and poverty. Many participants in both groups engaged in unprotected sex due to various reasons. Some had never seen a condom before, some trusted their sexual partners and thought there was no need to use a condom, others stated their partners didn’t’ allow them to use a condom. Other participants didn’t use a condom because it wasn’t available, others couldn’t use it due to misconceptions such as lack of sexual enjoyment. In some situations, participants couldn’t use a condom because of the environment in which they found themselves, those with casual sexual partners stated that sexual intercourse is usually performed in the bush and in hurry for fear of being discovered by passersby. Some participants couldn’t use the condom on account of their doctrine. A few participants used the condom for pregnancy protection. The study revealed that most participants would not initiate condom use with their sexual partners for fear of rejection, abandonment, infidelity and being suspected of having HIV and AIDS however, some participants were willing to initiate condom use with their sexual partners for pregnancy protection. Many participants in didn’t discuss sexual matters nor HIV and AIDS, and sexually transmitted infections with their sexual partners. A few participants discussed issues on pregnancy protection with their husbands.
Conclusion: The study shows that women engage in risk sexual behaviour. Continued sensitization is required in order to prevent women from engaging in risky sexual behaviour. It is concluded that several knowledge gaps existed among young women in relation to HIV and AIDS and that some
Dr. Catherine Mubita-Ngoma
Department of Nursing Sciences, University of Zambia, School of Medicine, P.O.Box 50110, Lusaka, Zambia.
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