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Risky sexual behaviours in young people in Asia and Africa

Jacqueline Desbarats, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

This paper argues that HIV epidemics in Asian countries are unlikely to follow sub-Saharan African paths, by describing geographic differences in sexual behaviours likely to influence susceptibility to HIV infection. Based on behavioural data collected in recent Demographic and Health Surveys in Asian and sub-Saharan African countries, it presents a graphic description of geographic and sex differences in national-level indicators of sexual behaviors. Differences between countries in the two continents confirm lower-risk behaviors in Asia, with median age at first sex and condom use higher than in Africa and rates of non-regular partnerships lower. The paper also documents the contrast bewteen the lower-risk behaviors of young women and their higher HIV prevalence rates. The significantly greater vulnerability of young women to HIV infection argues for further information on the risks incurred by young women within regular partnerships.

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Presented in Session 12: Sexual behaviour and sexuality