Maternal versus paternal orphans and HIV/STI risk among adolescent girls in Zimbabwe

AIDS Care. 2008 Feb;20(2):214-7. doi: 10.1080/09540120701534715.


The AIDS epidemic has contributed to a drastic increase in the number of orphans in Zimbabwe. Orphans (whether orphaned by AIDS or other causes) have been shown to have economic and educational disadvantages as well as poor reproductive health outcomes. We recruited a convenience sample of 200 girls in a peri-urban area of Zimbabwe to examine the impact of orphan status (compared to non-orphans) on household composition, education, risk behaviour, pregnancy and prevalent HIV and HSV-2 infection. In our population, maternal orphans were more likely to be in households headed by themselves or a sibling, to be sexually active, to have had an STI, to have been pregnant and to be infected with HIV. Paternal orphans were more likely to have ever been homeless and to be out of school. Our findings suggest that maternal care and support is important for HIV prevention. This finding corroborates previous research in Zimbabwe and has implications for intervention strategies among orphan girls.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child, Orphaned / psychology*
  • Educational Status
  • Family
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Parenting
  • Parents
  • Pregnancy / psychology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Health
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / psychology*
  • Zimbabwe