Transactional sex among youths in post-conflict Liberia

J Health Popul Nutr. 2011 Apr;29(2):113-22. doi: 10.3329/jhpn.v29i2.7853.


This paper presents findings on sexual risk behaviours of Liberian youths based on five focus-group discussions conducted with 6th and 7th graders (n = 36) attending an elementary/middle school in Monrovia, Liberia. The purpose of the focus-group discussions was to gain an understanding of the sexual behaviours of in-school Liberian adolescents. The focus-group discussions were part of a larger study to adapt an evidence-based HIV-prevention intervention-Making Proud Choices!-for in-school youths. Post-conflict conditions were discussed as a contributor to the emergence of high-risk sexual behaviours, including transactional sex, sexual violence, and lack of condom-use. Transactional sex was often described by the focus-group participants as occurring between young females and older, more financially-secure males to obtain cash, food, clothing, western commodities, and school-fees and was often encouraged by parents and promoted by peers. The findings also indicate that female adolescents make choices to engage in transactional sex to gain access to a continuum of material and consumer needs. These findings suggest that individual risk-taking behaviours are nested within complex sexual economies and that HIV-prevention interventions should be considered that leverage females' agency and control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / prevention & control
  • Adolescent
  • Condoms / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Liberia / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sex Work
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Sexual Partners
  • Young Adult