Transactional Sex in Sub-Saharan Africa: Meaning, Measurements and Implications for HIV Prevention - Kirsten Stoebenau and Joyce Wamoyi

In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) ages 15 - 24 are at high risk of HIV. Within SSA, AGYW have at least twice the risk of infection as their male counterparts and account for over forty percent of new infections among all women. Transactional sex (TS) is cited among the main factors driving AGYW’s increased HIV risk. However, there remains a lack of clarity on the definition, conceptualisation and measurement of the practice. In order to reduce the HIV risk that TS poses, intervention efforts need to begin from a complete understanding of TS, and its multiple motivations. Likewise our understanding of the conditions under which TS can increase a young woman’s risk of HIV would be strengthened with the use of clear measures that differentiate TS from sex work. 

This Learning Lab provides

  • a review of a proposed conceptualisation and definition of transactional sex
  • findings from a systematic review of the association between transactional sex and HIV among women and men in sub-Saharan Africa
  • improved approaches to measuring transactional sex   

Kirsten Stoebenau is currently a Research Assistant Professor at American University and consultant to ICRW on STRIVE. She is interested in the social and structural determinants of women’s sexual and reproductive health, with a geographic focus on sub-Saharan Africa. 

Joyce Wamoyi is a Senior Social Scientist at the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), Mwanza, Tanzania. Joyce Wamoyi and Kirsten Stoebenau serve as co-chairs of the Working Group on Transactional Sex and HIV under STRIVE.

Download the presentation pdf here.


Transactional sex and risk for HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Multiple motivations for ‘transactional sex’ need to be taken into account when planning interventions for African women (AIDSMAP summary of STRIVE's paper)

Revisiting the understanding of “transactional sex” in sub-Saharan Africa: A review and synthesis of the literature

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