2012. 11 p.
Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies: An International Interdisciplinary Journal for Research, Policy and Care, Volume 7, Issue 1, 2012
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Transactional sex (TS) has been correlated with HIV/STD infection, pregnancy, early marriage, and sexual violence in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Few Western-based HIV prevention programs adapted for SSA have examined intervention impacts for this group. This article examines whether an HIV prevention intervention, delivered to sixth-grade students in Liberia (age range 14–17) and found to increase condom use and other mediators for the larger sample, significantly impacted sexual behaviors and mediators for those who engaged in TS. Using an attention-matched, group-randomized controlled design, four matched pairs of elementary schools in Monrovia, Liberia, were randomly assigned to an adapted eight-module HIV prevention or a general health curriculum. Nine-month impacts of the intervention on sexual risk behaviors and mediators for those who engaged in TS, when compared with other study participants, are presented. Twelve percent of our sample of sixth graders (n = 714) ever engaged in TS. The majority of females reported being promised something in exchange for sex (52%), whereas the majority of males (52%) reported being both the giver and recipient of gifts in exchange for sex. Compared with other students, those who engaged in TS reported greater increases in the number of sex partners, reported greater frequency of sexual intercourse, were more likely to try to get pregnant or someone else pregnant, and reported greater reductions in protective sexual attitudes and HIV risk perception at the nine month follow-up, in both the intervention and the control groups. Our intervention, although successful for the general in-school adolescent sample, did not impact risk behaviors or mediators for adolescents who engaged in TS. Future research should explore the complex sexual economy in which TS is embedded and consider adapting HIV prevention interventions to the needs of this high-risk group.
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