Attitudinal and behavioral characteristics predict high risk sexual activity in rural Tanzanian youth

PLoS One. 2014 Jun 13;9(6):e99987. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0099987. eCollection 2014.

Abstract

The incidence of HIV infection in rural African youth remains high despite widespread knowledge of the disease within the region and increasing funds allocated to programs aimed at its prevention and treatment. This suggests that program efficacy requires a more nuanced understanding of the profiles of the most at-risk individuals. To evaluate the explanatory power of novel psychographic variables in relation to high-risk sexual behaviors, we conducted a survey to assess the effects of psychographic factors, both behavioral and attitudinal, controlling for standard predictors in 546 youth (12-26 years of age) across 8 villages in northern Tanzania. Indicators of high-risk sexual behavior included HIV testing, sexual history (i.e., virgin/non-virgin), age of first sexual activity, condom use, and number of lifetime sexual partners. Predictors in the statistical models included standard demographic variables, patterns of media consumption, HIV awareness, and six new psychographic features identified via factor analyses: personal vanity, family-building values, ambition for higher education, town recreation, perceived parental strictness, and spending preferences. In a series of hierarchical regression analyses, we find that models including psychographic factors contribute significant additional explanatory information when compared to models including only demographic and other conventional predictors. We propose that the psychographic approach used here, in so far as it identifies individual characteristics, aspirations, aspects of personal life style and spending preferences, can be used to target appropriate communities of youth within villages for leading and receiving outreach, and to build communities of like-minded youth who support new patterns of sexual behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology*
  • Sexual Partners
  • Tanzania / epidemiology
  • Young Adult

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