Journal Article

HIV vulnerability among adolescent girls and young women: A multi-country latent class analysis approach

To stem the HIV epidemic among adolescent girls and young women (AGYW, 15–24 years), prevention programs need to reach AGYW who are most at risk. We examine whether individual- and household-level factors could be used to define HIV vulnerability for AGYW.

We surveyed out-of-school AGYW in urban and peri-urban Kenya (N = 1014), in urban Zambia (N = 846), and in rural Malawi (N = 1654) from October 2016 to 2017. LCA identified classes based on respondent characteristics, attitudes and knowledge, and household characteristics. Multilevel regressions examined associations between class membership and HIV-related health outcomes.

We identified two latent classes—high and low HIV vulnerability profiles—among AGYW in each country; 32% of the sample in Kenya, 53% in Malawi, and 51% in Zambia belonged to the high vulnerability group. As compared to AGYW with a low-vulnerability profile, AGYW with a high-vulnerability profile had significantly higher odds of HIV-related outcomes (e.g., very early sexual debut, transactional sex, sexual violence from partners).

Out-of-school AGYW had differential vulnerability to HIV. Interventions should focus on reaching AGYW in the high HIV vulnerability profiles.