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HIV Prevention Through Relative Risk Information for Girls

Health & Psychology Kenya

The vast majority of HIV/AIDS cases occur in sub-Saharan Africa, where nearly 2 million people become infected with the virus every year. One quarter of these new HIV infections are among people under 25, and the great majority are due to unprotected sex. In Kenya, where over 6 percent of people are infected by HIV/AIDS, 25-year-old men are far more likely to have the virus than 16-year-old adolescent boys. This means that sexual relationships with older partners (often called “Sugar Daddies”) are particularly dangerous for adolescent girls. In this project, researchers randomly select and treat schools to measure whether and what information changes teenagers’ sexual behavior. Treatment included showing students a 10-minute educational video on “sugar daddies,” followed by an open discussion about cross-generational sex. While Kenya’s official abstinence-only HIV curriculum had no impact on teen pregnancy, this intervention reduced the incidence of childbearing by 28 percent. In addition, the rate of childbearing with men five or more years older fell by 61 percent, with no offsetting increase in childbearing with adolescent partners. This targeted approach cost US$98 per pregnancy averted, which compares favorably to other HIV prevention programs.

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