Examining the impact of orphan hood on sexual initiation among adolescents 10-19 in Rwanda and Zambia

Nancy Murray, Futures Group International
Minki Chatterji, Futures Group International
Leanne Dougherty, Futures Group International
Yvonne Mulenga, Project Concern International
Andrew Jones, CARE
Kathy Buek, Futures Group Europe
William Winfrey, Futures Group International
Joseph Amon, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS)

Family dynamics and family structure theory suggest that familial disruption increase the probability that youth will engage in risky behaviours. Unpublished research studies and programmatic reports have suggested that orphans in developing countries are higher risk of early sexual initiation. We investigate whether changes in family structure, specifically transition into orphanhood, put adolescents aged 10-19 at a higher risk of sexual initiation in Rwanda and Zambia. We examine our data, collected by the USAID-funded Community REACH and POLICY projects in June-December 2003, by using a discrete time hazard model. Our multivariate model also includes time-varying covariates related to the family structure of the child (parents survival status and years since death of parent). We hypothesize that orphanhood results in earlier sexual initiation. Our preliminary findings suggest that orphanhood puts youth at risk of experiencing sexual debut.

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Presented in Session 154: Passages to adulthood in developing countries (1)