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NAMIBIA: Youth having sex earlier, but with fewer partners

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]


Youth are having sex earlier but with fewer partner

WINDHOEK, 30 May (PLUSNEWS) - Namibians are having their first sexual encounter at an earlier age, but more people have reduced their number of sexual partners to avoid the risk of HIV infection, a new survey reveals.

"Our research showed that young Namibians have their first sexual encounter at the age of 18, one year ... [sooner than in] our first survey, done in 2003," said Kate Stratten of the Health Communication Partnership (HCP), based in the office of the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Centre for Communication Programmes in the capital, Windhoek.

JHU, renowned for its medical research and education in the US, presented its findings to Namibian government institutions and NGOs working in AIDS prevention last week. The survey was
funded by the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

About 4,200 respondents in seven smaller towns in northern and central Namibia participated in the two-year study. Three of them - Oniipa, Oshikuku and Rehoboth - were visited for a second time after initial baseline data was collected in 2003. In these three villages, the first sexual encounter took place at 18 years.

Alcohol abuse at shebeens (informal drinking places) led to risky sexual behaviour because it impaired judgement, the survey noted.

Encouraging findings were that a third of respondents said they had reduced their total number of sexual partners to avoid becoming infected with the HI virus, and that Namibians "continued to have good knowledge about the basics of HIV transmission, prevention and available services".

However, fewer abstained from sex to prevent HIV infection. "This was particularly true in Oshikuku in northern Namibia, where only 25 percent respondents indicated they had abstained [in 2005], compared to 50 percent in 2003," Stratten added.

There were mixed results on the use of condoms: in Oshikuku, only 48 percent respondents said they usually or always used a condom, compared to 55 percent in the previous survey. In Rehoboth, some 90 kilometres south of Windhoek, condom use had increased from 30 percent to 48 percent in two years. "Overall, one in two Namibians ... reported using a condom always or usually."


Recent NAMIBIA Reports
Orphans bear the brunt of WFP cash shortfall,  30/Nov/06
Global Fund rejects HIV/AIDS proposal ,  10/Nov/06
Walvis Bay harbour gives HIV an international passport,  8/Nov/06
Reaching targets despite great obstacles,  30/Oct/06
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· AIDS Media Center
· The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
· International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS
· International HIV/AIDS Alliance

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