Associations between friendship characteristics and HIV and HSV-2 status amongst young South African women in HPTN-068

Elizabeth Fearon, Richard D Wiggins, Audrey E Pettifor, Catherine MacPhail, Kathleen Kahn, Amanda Selin, F Xavier Gómez-Olivé, Sinéad Delany-Moretlwe, Estelle Piwowar-Manning, Oliver Laeyendecker, James R Hargreaves Journal of the International AIDS Society, 2018; Read the full paper online

Prevalence of HIV among young women in South Africa remains extremely high. The characteristics of young women's friendships might influence their sexual health and HIV risk via connections to:

  • sexual partners
  • norms around sexual initiation
  • condom use
  • provision of social support

This paper investigated the associations between young women's friendships and their HSV-2 and HIV infection status in rural South Africa. The results showed that a greater number of older friends and friends perceived to have had sex was associated with increased risk of infection among young women.

These findings could have implications for policies or programmes that influence age-mixing and should lead to a greater consideration of what characterises young women's normative environments. 

Watch Elizabeth Fearon's Learning Lab about the study to learn more.

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