Risky sexual behaviour among youth: A case of Mufakose, Harare

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Master of Science in Population Studies
Title Risky sexual behaviour among youth: A case of Mufakose, Harare
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
URL http://ir.uz.ac.zw/jspui/bitstream/10646/3112/1/Musizvingoza_Risky_sexual_behaviour_among_youth.pdf
1.1 Introduction
Sexual behaviour among youths has been a focus of health programs worldwide since the
International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994. Youth sexuality
and sexual behaviour remain a challenge to most developing countries including Zimbabwe.
In many countries, youths have been largely recognised as a healthy part of the population
(UNFPA 2012) This has resulted in neglect of their reproductive health needs by the
available services (UNFPA, 2012). Information and services are not easily accessible to
youths to help them understand their sexuality and protect them from STIs and unintended
pregnancies. Young people in Zimbabwe, especially young women, currently have limited
access to information and services depending on where they live or whether they are married
or not. This situation is of great concern because lack of knowledge on reproductive health
matters which include pregnancy and STI‘s means that young people may-be engaging in
sexual behaviours that put them at risk of reproductive health problems.
Young people comprise a greater percentage of the Global and Sub-Saharan Africa
population (UN, 2013). Nearly 90% of young people reside in developing countries (UN,
2013). Youths from Sub-Saharan Africa are at a greater risk of encountering reproductive
health challenges when compared to youths from other parts of the World as a result low
economic and social conditions in the region (Ringheim and Gribble 2010). Unsafe sexual
behaviours among the 15-24 year olds drive the HIV epidemic and also result in a high
number of sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies (Zhou, 2010). Increases
in school dropouts due to pregnancies result in long term effects which include a loss of
potential human resources for the country (UNAIDS, 2005). Studying sexual behaviours such
as early sexual debut, condom use and multiple sexual partners, is of paramount importance
as the consequences of such behaviours have health related implications.
1.2 Background of the Study
Studies have indicated the prevalence of risky sexual behaviours among youths aged 15-24
years, such as early sexual debut, having multiple sexual partners, and non-use of condoms
and contraception (Eaton et al., 2003; Gouws, 2010; Sambisa et al., 2008). Young men and
women especially those who stay in urban areas have multiple sexual partners and usually
engage in unprotected sex (Khan and Vinod, 2008). These sexual behaviours have been the
prime drivers of the HIV epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa (UNFPA, 2011; UNAIDS& WHO,
2009). The HIV and AIDS pandemic, is disproportionately affecting young people and this
has made this task more urgent. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS
estimates that more than fifty percent of new HIV infections each year to be in youths below
the age of 25 years (UNAIDS, 2013). Sub-Saharan Africa is home to over 70% of young
people living with HIV and AIDS and to 90% of the AIDS orphans in the world (12.1 million
children) (UNAIDS 2013).
Young people remain disproportionately affected by HIV, accounting for 41% of all new
infections among 15-49 year-olds (UNAIDS 2010). As at 2010, only 34% of young people
held comprehensive and correct knowledge about HIV and AIDS (UNICEF, 2012). In
Eastern and Southern Africa, some 2.7 million people aged 15-24 years live with HIV, more
than half of all HIV-positive young people globally (UNICEF, 2012). Young people aged 15-
24 comprise 22.5% and 20% to the population of Zimbabwe and Sub-Saharan Africa
respectively (UN, 2007; ZIMSTATS, 2012). In Zimbabwe, the average age at first sexual
intercourse is 19 years for both men and women (ZIMSTAT and ICF International, 2012) but
many begin sexual experimentation far earlier (Boohene et al., 1994). Unprotected sex
exposes youths to risk of unintended pregnancies which will result in dropping out of school,
early marriages, baby dumping and seeking abortions(Boohene et al., 1994). In Zimbabwe
the HIV prevalence rate among 15 to 24 year olds is 5.5%, again much higher in women
(7.8%) than in men (3.6%) (ZIMSTAT and ICF International, 2012).According to UNAIDS
(2011), young people are particularly vulnerable to HIV and in 2010, 15–24 year olds
accounted for 42% of new HIV infections in people aged 15 and older(UNAIDS 2011). Peer
pressure and stereotypical sexual norms influence youths especially males to prove their
manhood and social standing by engaging multiple sexual partners (Boohene et al., 1994). On
the other hand young females are raised to be submissive to men and avoid discussing sex
which compromises their ability to insist on condom use (Bassett and Sherman, 1994).
Young people are vulnerable to HIV because of risky sexual behaviour, substance use and
their lack of access to HIV information and prevention services. According to UNAIDS
Zimbabwe‘s HIV prevalence rate is one of highest in the world at 14.7% (UNAIDS 2013).
1.3 Statement of the Problem
Young people 15-24 years old in Zimbabwe are the group most vulnerable to HIV and other
STIs due to factors such as early sexual experimentation, limited access to reproductive
health services (UNICEF, 2012; Stally, 2003). Females are at higher risk of HIV infection
due to gender norms. Risky sexual behaviour is commonly defined as behaviour that
increases one‘s risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections and experiencing
unintended pregnancies. Studies show that sexual activity begins at an early age throughout
Zimbabwe, a particular concern in a country with a large and growing young population
(Zaba et al., 2004; Africare, 2000; UNICEF, 2001). Gender roles and social norms together
with economic and legal factors negatively affect sexual risky behaviours in Zimbabwe and
other countries globally.(Bassett and Sherman, 1994).In Sub Saharan Africa recent statistics
show a high prevalence of reproductive health problems such as STIs and HIV and AIDS,
infertility, ectopic pregnancy unintended pregnancies, and cervical cancer (Ringheim and
Gribble, 2010). Early sexual debut, multiple sexual partners, having sex under the influence
of alcohol or drugs, and unprotected sexual intercourse are some of the risky behaviours that
put young people at greater risk (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010).
UNFPA in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and Zimbabwe
National Family Planning Council, has implemented interventions to opening up
opportunities for young people in sexual reproductive health issues. The Zimbabwe National
Family Planning Council programme called Promotion of Youth Responsibility Project
encouraged young people to adopt behaviours that reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancies
and STIs, including HIV. However, the issue of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) among
youths is still a topic that causes discomfort. Policy inconsistencies, provider attitudes and
attitudes of parents towards sexual reproductive health issues among youths have hampered
the success of the programmes. There are still challenges arising from sexual behaviours
among youths which include teenage pregnancies, STI‘s, HIV and AIDS and abortion despite
the intervention programmes in place and high knowledge of HIV and AIDS among youths.
This study, then, is aimed at exploring youth‘s risky sexual behaviours. It seeks to understand
the various aspects of youth‘s sexual behaviours that put them at risky in this era of HIV and
1.4 Justification of the Study
Young people comprise a greater proportion of Sub-Saharan Africa and the global population
(UN 2013). Nearly 50 percent of the world‘s population is made up of youths below the age
of 25(PRB, 2013). The health of young people is essential for the social and economic
development of any country therefore meaningful investments should be made in their health
to ensure future human capital and poverty alleviation (The World Bank Group, 2011).
Therefore it is important to understand the behaviours that expose young people to risk of
early sexual debut and the ability to predict and understand motivational influences on
behaviour will provide information that is valuable in the development of SRH programs,
pregnancy and STI prevention programs.
Addressing the reproductive health challenges of youths is very important for the
development of any country and provides an opportunity for strengthening future human
capital, observing sexual reproductive rights and alleviating the cycle of poverty within
societies (UNFPA, 2012). Young people are exposed to many risks and dangers during
adolescence but there is potential for promotion of healthy behaviour through providing
comprehensive education.(Kleinert, 2007; WHO, 2007).Measures should be put in place to
educate young people on health and preventive behaviour during this stage of life (Call et al.
2002). Behaviour learnt or initiated during adolescence may last forever and can have
positive or negative impacts on the future of the youths (Call et al. 2002). Youths are future
parents and therefore preventive behaviour learnt during adolescence may be passed on to
future generations.
1.5 Objectives of the Study
The overall objective of the study is to explore sexual behaviour and related factors, of young
people aged 15-24 years living in Mufakose, Harare. Specifically the objectives of the study
are to:
1. Identify sexual risk behaviours amongst young people
2. Describe the risky sexual behaviours of youths.
3. Explore the factors facilitating the risky sexual behaviours youths.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study will be carried out in Mufakose high density suburb in Harare which is an urban
set up. A representative sample will be drawn among the populations of youths aged between
15-24 years old. The study is focused on identifying and exploring socio-economic factors
that put young people at risk of unwanted pregnancies and contracting HIV and AIDS.
1.7 Organisation of the Study
The study is organised into five chapters:
 Chapter one is an introduction to the study;
 Chapter two unveils and synthesises literature written pertaining to reproductive
health and sexual behaviours among youths globally, regionally and in Zimbabwe.
This chapter will also include the theoretical frameworks used in the research;
 Chapter three focuses on the methodology of the study;
 Chapter four presents the study findings; and
 Chapter five sums up the study by giving discussions of the results and conclusions of
the study as well as providing recommendations on how to solve sexual behaviour
issues among youths.

Related studies