Sexual Relations Between Older Men and Young Women Contribute to HIV Prevalence in Sub-Saharan Africa, Opinion Piece Says
Sexual relationships between older men and teenage girls play a large role in the high HIV infection rate among young women in sub-Saharan Africa, Martha Frase-Blunt, a freelance health writer, states in a Washington Post opinion piece. The men often date young women because they see them as a status symbol and because they believe that the women are "risk-free" because of their age, Frase-Blunt writes. The girls, for their part, "doubt their classy boyfriends could have HIV, and lack the clout within the relationship to insist on condoms," she states, noting that many of the girls intentionally do not use condoms because they hope to become pregnant in order to "permanently 'catch'" their partner. Girls in the region between the ages of 15 and 19 have up to six times the HIV prevalence of boys their age, Frase-Blunt writes, concluding, "Understanding and engineering behavior change in Africa has become absolutely critical to fighting the next battle [against AIDS]. ... Let's hope the international health community is willing to put its smarts and sweat into this one" (Frase-Blunt, Washington Post, 10/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.