AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 10, Issue 6, pp 627–635 | Cite as

Sexual Risk Behavior among South African Adolescents: Is Orphan Status a Factor?

  • Tonya R. Thurman
  • Lisanne Brown
  • Linda Richter
  • Pranitha Maharaj
  • Robert Magnani
Article

There is concern that orphans may be at particular risk of HIV infection due to earlier age of sexual onset and higher likelihood of sexual exploitation or abuse; however, there is limited empirical evidence examining this phenomenon. Utilizing data from 1694 Black South African youth aged 14–18, of whom 31% are classified as orphaned, this analysis explores the relationship between orphan status and sexual risk. The analysis found both male and female orphans significantly more likely to have engaged in sex as compared to non-orphans (49% vs. 39%). After adjusting for socio-demographic variables, orphans were nearly one and half times more likely than non-orphans to have had sex. Among sexually active youth, orphans reported younger age of sexual intercourse with 23% of orphans having had sex by age 13 or younger compared to 15% of non-orphans. Programmatic implications of these findings for the care and protection of orphans are discussed.

Key words

Orphans South Africa First sex Sexual abuse HIV risk behavior Survival sex Transactional sex 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tonya R. Thurman
    • 5
  • Lisanne Brown
    • 5
  • Linda Richter
    • 2
  • Pranitha Maharaj
    • 3
  • Robert Magnani
    • 4
  1. 1.Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical MedicineDepartment of International Health and DevelopmentNew OrleansUSA
  2. 2.Human Sciences Research Council and University of KwaZulu-NatalDurbanSouth Africa
  3. 3.School of Development StudiesUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalDurbanSouth Africa
  4. 4.Family Health InternationalJakartaIndonesia
  5. 5.Department of International Health and DevelopmentTulane School of Public Health and Tropical MedicineNew OrleansLouisiana

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