197144 Individual and community-level influences of attitudes toward wife beating on early and premarital sex: An examination of female youth in six countries

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 9:10 AM

Ilene S. Speizer, PhD, MHS , SPH - Maternal and Child Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Female youth who engage in early and premarital sex are at increased risk of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), sexually transmitted infections (STI), and unintended pregnancies. Most programs that promote sexual abstinence and delayed sexual debut among youth ignore the mediating influence of the threat and experience of violence on these outcomes. Using nationally representative data from six sub-Saharan African countries, this study employs multivariate analyses to examine the association between individual and community attitudes toward wife beating on age at sexual debut among never married youth and on the circumstances of sexual debut (in union or premarital) among ever married youth. Never married female youth (ages 15-24) who approve of wife beating are more likely to have sexually debuted at each age in five of the six countries. In addition, those youth from East African countries who are from communities with higher support for wife beating are more likely to have initiated sex at each age. Conversely, female youth from two of the Southern African countries (Malawi and Zimbabwe) who are from communities with higher support for wife beating are less likely to have sexually debuted at each age and to have had premarital first sex. The findings from this study demonstrate that in East Africa, programs that change community violence norms could lead to reductions in youth risk of HIV, STI, and unintended pregnancies. In Southern Africa, qualitative data collection is needed to better understand the role of wife beating attitudes on youth sexual behaviors.

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify the role of an individual youth’s attitude toward wife beating on early and premarital sex. 2. Describe the importance of community-level wife beating attitudes on individual-level sexual debut timing and circumstances. 3. Discuss the distinctions between the findings on youth in Eastern Africa and youth in Southern Africa and relate these distinctions to programmatic approaches.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Because I did the analyses and wrote the paper.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.