Author(s): Uchudi J, Magadi M, Mostazir M
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Abstract A number of authors have identified multiple concurrent sexual partnerships by both men and women to lie at the root of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. This study applies multilevel models to Demographic and Health Survey data collected during 2003-2008 in 20 sub-Saharan African countries to examine the influence of social and cultural context on involvement with multiple sexual partnerships in the region, above and beyond the effects of individual characteristics. The findings provide support for the ecological argument that health behaviours are shaped and determined by societal conditions, in addition to the effects of individual and household characteristics. Involvement with multiple sex partners is most prevalent in societies in which sexual norms are widely permissive and where polygyny is common. Individual autonomy is substantial and attitudes towards sexuality are more liberal among men and women who live in communities in which sexual norms are widely permissive. Men and women who are most likely to have multiple sex partners in the sub-Saharan region are those who initiated sexual activity earlier and those who have the individual attributes (e.g. young age, urban residence, education, media exposure and working for cash and away from home) that bring to them more rights and/or decision-making autonomy, but not necessarily more financial resources and economic security (mostly among women). On the other hand, involvement with multiple partners is determined by cultural norms (i.e. permissive sexual norms) and social change (i.e. mass education, expansion of cash employment). The findings suggest a number of opportunities for more effective policy and programmatic responses to curb the prevalence of multiple partnerships in sub-Saharan Africa.
This article was published in J Biosoc Sci
and referenced in Journal of Child and Adolescent Behavior