Purpose: Schooling is associated with a lower risk of Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) in adolescent girls and young women, but there is little understanding of the pathways underlying this relationship.
Methods: We used data from adolescent girls and young women in South Africa enrolled in the HIV Prevention Trials Network 068 study. We tested a structural equation model where individual household and community education measures were associated directly and indirectly with incident HSV-2 through HIV knowledge, future aspirations, age-disparate partnerships, sex in the last 12 months, and condomless sex.
Results: Community, household, and individual measures of schooling were all associated with incident HSV-2 infection through mediated pathways that increased the likelihood of having sex. Low school attendance (<80% of school days) increased the likelihood of having sex through increased age-disparate partnerships and reduced future aspirations. Fewer community years of education increased the likelihood of having sex through increased age-disparate partnerships. Parental education level was indirectly associated with HSV-2 overall, although we could not identify the individual pathways that were responsible for this association.
Conclusions: Community and individual schooling interventions may reduce the risk of HSV-2 infection by influencing the likelihood of having sex, partner age, and future aspirations.
Keywords: Adolescent girls and young women; Education; HSV-2; Mediation; Multilevel; Sexual behaviors.
Copyright © 2019 Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.