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Transactional Sex among Youths in Post-conflict Liberia

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      Abstract

      This paper presents findings on sexual risk behaviours of Liberian youths based on five focus-group discussions conducted with 6th and 7th graders (n=36) attending an elementary/middle school in Monrovia, Liberia. The purpose of the focus-group discussions was to gain an understanding of the sexual behaviours of in-school Liberian adolescents. The focus-group discussions were part of a larger study to adapt an evi-dence-based HIV-prevention intervention—Making Proud Choices!—for in-school youths. Post-conflict conditions were discussed as a contributor to the emergence of high-risk sexual behaviours, including transactional sex, sexual violence, and lack of condom-use. Transactional sex was often described by the focus-group participants as occurring between young females and older, more financially-secure males to obtain cash, food, clothing, western commodities, and school-fees and was often encouraged by parents and promoted by peers. The findings also indicate that female adolescents make choices to engage in transactional sex to gain access to a continuum of material and consumer needs. These findings suggest that individual risk-taking behaviours are nested within complex sexual economies and that HIV-prevention interventions should be considered that leverage females’ agency and control.

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      Most cited references 57

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      Gender-based violence, relationship power, and risk of HIV infection in women attending antenatal clinics in South Africa.

      Gender-based violence and gender inequality are increasingly cited as important determinants of women's HIV risk; yet empirical research on possible connections remains limited. No study on women has yet assessed gender-based violence as a risk factor for HIV after adjustment for women's own high-risk behaviours, although these are known to be associated with experience of violence. We did a cross-sectional study of 1366 women presenting for antenatal care at four health centres in Soweto, South Africa, who accepted routine antenatal HIV testing. Private face-to-face interviews were done in local languages and included assessement of sociodemographic characteristics, experience of gender-based violence, the South African adaptation of the Sexual Relationship Power Scale (SRPS), and risk behaviours including multiple, concurrent, and casual male partners, and transactional sex. After adjustment for age and current relationship status and women's risk behaviour, intimate partner violence (odds ratio 1.48, 95% CI 1.15-1.89) and high levels of male control in a woman's current relationship as measured by the SRPS (1.52, 1.13-2.04) were associated with HIV seropositivity. Child sexual assault, forced first intercourse, and adult sexual assault by non-partners were not associated with HIV serostatus. Women with violent or controlling male partners are at increased risk of HIV infection. We postulate that abusive men are more likely to have HIV and impose risky sexual practices on partners. Research on connections between social constructions of masculinity, intimate partner violence, male dominance in relationships, and HIV risk behaviours in men, as well as effective interventions, are urgently needed.
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        World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki: ethical principles for medical research involving human subjects.

          (2004)
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          The Materiality of Everyday Sex: Thinking beyond 'prostitution'

           Mark Hunter (2002)
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            1Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, Louisville Center, 1300 S Fourth Street, Suite 300, Louisville, KY 40208, USA
            2UL-PIRE Africa Center, HIV/STD Prevention Research Center, A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine, University of Liberia, Monrovia, Liberia
            Author notes
            Correspondence and reprint requests should be addressed to: Dr. Katharine Atwood, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, 1300 South Fourth Street, Louisville, KY 40208, USA, Email: katwood@ 123456PIRE.org , Fax: (502)634-5690
            Journal
            J Health Popul Nutr
            JHPN
            Journal of Health, Population, and Nutrition
            International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh
            1606-0997
            2072-1315
            April 2011
            : 29
            : 2
            : 113-122
            3126983
            21608420
            jhpn0029-0113
            © INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR DIARRHOEAL DISEASE RESEARCH, BANGLADESH

            This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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