Ecological factors influencing HIV sexual risk and resilience among young people in rural Kenya: implications for prevention

Health Educ Res. 2014 Feb;29(1):131-46. doi: 10.1093/her/cyt081. Epub 2013 Aug 22.


Most new HIV infections in Kenya occur among young people. The purpose of this study was to understand ecological factors that influence HIV-related sexual risk and resilience among young people in rural Kenya and to elicit their ideas for HIV prevention interventions. Nine focus groups (N = 199) were conducted with both female (55%) and male (45%) participants (ages 14-24 years) living in rural communities in Kenya. Findings were organized into thematic areas related to the following systems of influence: (i) intrapersonal (substance use, HIV knowledge), (ii) interpersonal (peer pressure, lack of parent-child communication, interpersonal sexual violence), (iii) institutional/community (pornography, transactional sex, 'idleness', lack of role models) and (iv) socio-cultural/policy (Kikuyu culture, Western influence, religious beliefs, HIV-related stigma and gendered sexual scripts). Results regarding the types of HIV prevention programs that participants believed should be developed for young people in rural Kenya revealed seven primary themes, including (i) HIV prevention community/group workshops, (ii) condom distribution, (iii) job skills trainings, (iv) athletic and social clubs, (v) HIV-related stigma reduction campaigns, (vi) community-wide demonstrations and (vii) other HIV/AIDS activities led by young people. Implications for the development of culturally and developmentally appropriate HIV prevention interventions for young people in rural Kenya are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / prevention & control
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / psychology
  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology
  • Culture
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Kenya / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Resilience, Psychological
  • Rural Population
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Social Environment*
  • Young Adult