Orphanhood and adolescent HIV risk behaviors in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Paper prepared for presentation at the Population Association of America 2006 Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, 30 March-1 April
Publication date: 2006
Although orphanhood is believed to be a risk factor for unsafe sexual behaviors among adolescents in developing countries-particularly girls-there are few studies documenting the relationship. Most orphan research focuses on infants and very young children, who may be at risk for HIV through vertical transmission from mothers or increased vulnerability to sexual abuse. The effects of orphanhood on adolescent HIV risk behaviors are, however, understudied. Using longitudinal data from a population-based survey of 14-22-year-olds in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, interviewed in 1999 and followed up in 2001, we find that controlling for age and household expenditure and size, relative to non-orphans, paternal orphaned females (p =.05) and males (p =.01) have higher odds of debuting earlier sexually, maternal orphaned females are less likely to discuss condom use with recent sexual partners (p =.05), and maternal orphaned males report being less confident they can use a condom correctly (p =.05).