Age at sexual debut: a determinant of multiple partnership among South African youth
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Age at sexual debut is an important determinant of HIV infection. The paper investigates the effects of age at sexual debut on sexual behaviour among South African youth. Among 2 875 respondents who ever had sexual intercourse, 39% had early sexual debut (sexual debut at age 16 years and below). Males (44.6%) were significantly more likely than females (35.1%) to report early sexual debut (odds ratio (OR)=1.45, p-value <0.001). Multiple sexual partners are significantly more common among those that had early sexual debut (10.4% vs. 4.8%) than those who had late sexual debut, (OR=2.29, p-value<0.001). Those aged 15 to 19 years were 1.4 times more likely to report multiple partners compared to those aged 20 to 24 years. Delaying sexual debut is a strategy many national programmes are promoting. The results of this study provide additional arguments to support such initiatives and show the need to strengthen intervention targeting youth.
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