Sexual behaviour in developing countries: implications for HIV control

AIDS. 1995 Oct;9(10):1171-5. doi: 10.1097/00002030-199510000-00009.


Objective: To provide basic information on pre- and extramarital sex in the general population and other factors related to HIV transmission.

Design: Cross-sectional household survey in 18 countries of the developing world, mainly in Africa and Asia.

Respondents: Representative samples of 1300-6995 individuals aged 15-49 years, interviewed in 1989-1993.

Methods: Face-to-face interviewing.

Results: We observed a huge variability between study sites, with the proportion of men reporting sexual contact outside regular partnerships in the last year ranging from 4 to 47%. Contacts with sex workers range from 1 to 25%. Women were much less likely to report non-marital sex than men.

Conclusions: This first cross-cultural attempt to examine aspects of sexual lifestyles suggests that broad generalizations about multiple-partner sexual networking in particular regions are misleading. Gender, marital status, age and a few other demographic correlates were disclosed as powerful determinants of sexual behaviour, although the strength of associations varied greatly between specific locations. Condom use was very low in most study sites.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Condoms / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Developing Countries*
  • Extramarital Relations
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Work
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Sexual Partners