Social Cognition Variables and Victimization as Predictors of Sexual Debut Among Adolescents in South Africa and Tanzania: A Multi-group SEM Analysis


Early sexual debut is common in South Africa and Tanzania, with potentially negative reproductive health outcomes. The role of violence as a predictor of sexual debut was studied, in a context of predictors borrowed from social cognition models. Data were taken from cluster-randomized trials of school-based HIV prevention interventions in three sites in South Africa and Tanzania. Analyses consisted of descriptive statistics and multi-group structural equation modelling. The basic model functioned fairly well for Cape Town, but less well for Mankweng and Dar es Salaam (low R2 values). Attitudes were the strongest predictor of intention. Adding socio-demographic variables to the model did not reduce the associations much and neither did subsequent inclusion of violence. Sexual debut was strongly associated with victimization; adding violence also substantially increased R2 for sexual debut. Besides social cognition factors, intimate partner violence should be addressed in future research on reproductive health interventions for adolescents.

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The full title of the project was:“Promoting sexual and reproductive health. School-based HIV/AIDS prevention in sub-Saharan Africa”. The acronym for the project was “SATZ”, which stands for South Africa Tanzania. The SATZ study was funded by the EC—INCO research programme (Fifth Framework Programme—Contract number ICA4-CT-2002-10038). The partners and principal investigators included: University of Cape Town (Alan J. Flisher), Muhimbili University College of Health Sciences, (Sylvia Kaaya), University of the North (Hans Onya), Karolinska institute (Minou Fuglesang), University of Maastricht (Herman Schaalma), University of Oslo (Knut-Inge Klepp), World Population Foundation & Youth Incentives (Jo Reinders), University of Bergen (Leif Edvard Aarø—coordinator).

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Correspondence to Annegreet Gera Wubs.

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Wubs, A.G., Aarø, L.E., Kaaya, S. et al. Social Cognition Variables and Victimization as Predictors of Sexual Debut Among Adolescents in South Africa and Tanzania: A Multi-group SEM Analysis. AIDS Behav 19, 2141–2151 (2015).

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  • HIV prevention
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Adolescents
  • Theory of planned behaviour
  • Multi-group SEM analysis