Perceptions of risk among adolescents in Uganda: are they related to their behaviour?

Fatima H. Ahmed, The Alan Guttmacher Institute
Richard Kibombo, Makerere Institute for Social Research
Stella Neema, Makerere Institute of Social Research

In Sub-Saharan Africa, adolescents are coming of age in region of the world with the highest HIV prevalence and with mixed exposure to information which shapes their beliefs about sexual behavior. In Uganda, since HIV prevalence has declined sharply over the last 15 years, are adolescents becoming better at identifying their vulnerability to HIV? Using data collected in 2003-2004 through focus groups, in-depth interviews and a nationally representative survey, we examine the relationship between perceptions of vulnerability and actual vulnerability among 12-19 year old Ugandans. We treat Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) as a protective measure that at-risk adolescents can adopt. While the quantitative data is able to inform on personal and impersonal perceptions of risk and sexual behavior, the qualitative data presents personalized strategies that adolescents adopt to minimize their risks.

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Presented in Poster Session 1