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Women and HIV/AID in Zambia | Chapter 04 | Perspectives of Arts and Social Studies Vol. 1

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

Author(s) Details

Dr. Catherine Mubita-Ngoma
Department of Nursing Sciences, University of Zambia, School of Medicine, P.O.Box 50110, Lusaka, Zambia.

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