Partner Age Differences and Concurrency in South Africa: Implications for HIV-Infection Risk among Young Women

February 2015 - Structural Prevention

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Maughan-Brown, B., Kenyon, C., & Lurie, M. N. AIDS and Behavior (December 2014), Volume 18, Issue 12, pp. 2469-2476.

The authors collected data on age-disparate partnerships (defined as heterosexual partnerships in which the woman is five or more years younger than her male partner) and concurrent relationships (defined as any temporal overlap of one or more sexual partnerships) from 7,476 South African participants aged 16–49 years (3,530 men and 3,946 women). The authors collected data on participants’ three most recent sexual partners (including dates of first sex, last sex, and anticipated future sex), distinguishing between partnerships with age disparities of ≥ 5 years and ≥ 10 years. Data analysis showed that a significant proportion (43 percent) of 16- to 49-year-old women were in partnerships with a man five or more years older. Among young women (ages 16–24), about one-third of recent sexual contact involved a man five or more years older, and 7 percent involved a man 10 or more years older. Further, among women aged 16–24 years, male partners five or more years older were more likely to have concurrent female partners. The authors concluded that younger women are more likely to be in concurrent male partnerships (that is, the male partner has another female partner) and age-disparate relationships, which increases their risk of HIV transmission by connecting them to larger and older sexual networks.

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