Current HIV/AIDS Reports

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 207–215 | Cite as

Sustained High HIV Incidence in Young Women in Southern Africa: Social, Behavioral, and Structural Factors and Emerging Intervention Approaches

  • Abigail HarrisonEmail author
  • Christopher J. Colvin
  • Caroline Kuo
  • Alison Swartz
  • Mark Lurie
The Global Epidemic (SH Vermund, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on The Global Epidemic


Young women in southern Africa experience some of the highest incidence rates of HIV infection in the world. Across southern Africa, HIV prevalence among women increases rapidly between the teenage years and young adulthood. Adult HIV prevalence is 16.8 % in South Africa, 23 % in Botswana, 23 % in Lesotho, and 26.5 % in Swaziland. Existing research has illuminated some of the key social, behavioral, and structural factors associated with young women’s disproportionate HIV risk, including gendered social norms that advantage male power in sexual relationships and age disparities in relationships between younger women and older male partners. Important structural factors include the region’s history of labor migration and legacy of family disruption, and entrenched social and economic inequalities. New interventions are emerging to address these high levels of HIV risk in the key population of young women, including structural interventions, biomedical prevention such as PrEP, and combined HIV prevention approaches.


Women HIV infection Southern Africa Structural factors Interventions 



We gratefully acknowledge support from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Development (NICHD), via R24HD077976-01.

Compliance with Ethics Guidelines

Conflict of Interest

Abigail Harrison, Christopher J. Colvin, Caroline Kuo, Alison Swartz, and Mark Lurie declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Abigail Harrison
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christopher J. Colvin
    • 2
  • Caroline Kuo
    • 1
    • 3
  • Alison Swartz
    • 2
  • Mark Lurie
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Behavioral and Social SciencesBrown University School of Public HealthProvidenceUSA
  2. 2.Division of Social and Behavioral SciencesUniversity of Cape Town School of Public Health and Family MedicineCape TownSouth Africa
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry and Mental HealthUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa
  4. 4.Department of EpidemiologyBrown University School of Public HealthProvidenceUSA

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