Background: Although some studies in Tanzania have addressed the question of sexuality and STIs among adolescents, mostly those aged 15 - 19 years, evidence on how multiple sexual partners influence condom use among 10 - 19 year-olds is limited. This study attempts to bridge this gap by testing a hypothesis that sexual relationships with multiple partners in the age group 10 - 19 years spurs condom use during sex in four districts in Tanzania.
Methods: Secondary analysis was performed using data from the Adolescents Module of the cross-sectional household survey on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) that was done in Kigoma, Kilombero, Rufiji and Ulanga districts, Tanzania in 2008. A total of 612 adolescents resulting from a random sample of 1200 households participated in this study. Pearson Chi-Square was used as a test of association between multiple sexual partners and condom use. Multivariate logistic regression model was fitted to the data to assess the effect of multiple sexual partners on condom use, having adjusted for potential confounding variables. STATA (10) statistical software was used to carry out this process at 5% two-sided significance level.
Results: Of the 612 adolescents interviewed, 23.4% reported being sexually active and 42.0% of these reported having had multiple (> 1) sexual partners in the last 12 months. The overall prevalence of condom use among them was 39.2%. The proportion using a condom at the last sexual intercourse was higher among those who knew that they can get a condom if they want than those who did not. No evidence of association was found between multiple sexual partners and condom use (OR = 0.77, 95% CI = 0.35 - 1.67, P = 0.504). With younger adolescents (10 - 14 years) being a reference, condom use was associated with age group (15 - 19: OR = 3.69, 95% CI = 1.21 - 11.25, P = 0.022) and district of residence (Kigoma: OR = 7.45, 95% CI = 1.79 - 31.06, P = 0.006; Kilombero: OR = 8.89, 95% CI = 2.91 - 27.21, P < 0.001; Ulanga: OR = 5.88, 95% CI = 2.00 - 17.31, P = 0.001), Rufiji being a reference category.
Conclusion: No evidence of association was found between multiple sexual partners and condom use among adolescents in the study area. The large proportion of adolescents who engage in sexual activity without using condoms, even those with multiple partners, perpetuates the risk of transmission of HIV infections in the community. Strategies such as sex education and easing access to and making a friendly environment for condom availability are important to address the risky sexual behaviour among adolescents.