Age-disparate sex and HIV risk for young women from 2002 to 2012 in South Africa

Age-disparate sex and HIV risk for young women.pdf

Age-disparate sex has long been considered a factor that increases HIV risk for young women in South Africa. However, recent studies from specific regions in South Africa have found conflicting evidence. Few studies have assessed the association between age-disparate partnerships (those involving an age gap of 5 years or more) and HIV risk at the national level. 

This study provides nationally representative evidence that in 2005, 2008, and 2012, age-disparate sex was significantly associated with elevated HIV infection risk among young women aged 15-24 years old in South Africa. In 2005 and 2008 having had an age-disparate partner 5+ years older more than doubled young women’s odds of being HIV positive, and in 2005, 2008, and 2012 young women’s odds of being HIV positive increased for each year increase in their partner’s age.

In light of recent contradicting study results the authors coclude that additional research is required to investigate the role that age-disparate partnerships play in young women’s HIV risk. Specifically, there is a need for further community level longitudinal and qualitative research in different areas across the country for a more nuanced understanding of age-disparate sex and young women’s HIV risk.

Read more about STRIVE research with adolescent girls and young women in sub-Saharan Africa.

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