Pilgrim, N. A., Ahmed, S., Gray, R. H., et al. International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health (November 2014), doi: 10.1515/ijamh-2014-0032, E-publication ahead of print.
Family structure and school attendance are believed to play a critical role in adolescents' sexual behaviors, providing direct emotional, social, and economic support, as well as positive or negative role models. The authors of this study sought to clarify the influence of families and school attendance on young women's sexual risk behaviors, so as to identify new HIV prevention strategies for this group. The authors analyzed the most recent available survey interviews for 2,337 unmarried girls aged 15–19 years who were enrolled in the Rakai Community Cohort Study in rural Uganda between 2001 and 2008. The analysis was stratified by age (15–17 and 18–19 years) and school status (in or out of school). The findings showed that in both age groups, girls living with their biological father reported lower risk behaviors, including fewer sexual partners, compared do those living with a stepfather or in another family structure. In addition, adolescents currently enrolled in school reported fewer partners over the past year, suggesting that school attendance is associated with lower risk behavior. The authors concluded that HIV prevention interventions for adolescent girls should consider both family structures and school attendance status.