HIV Risk Perceptions, School Participation and the Timing of Adolescent Sexual Debut in Southern Malawi

Monica J. Grant, University of Pennsylvania

While many studies have focused on the cross-sectional association between adolescent HIV risk perceptions and sexual behavior, most have neglected the potential confounding role of school participation. Given that many studies have found lower levels of sexual activity among students as compared to adolescents who are not enrolled in school, it is important to consider how school participation may interact with HIV risk perceptions. By integrating schooling experiences and outcomes into the assessment of adolescent risk perceptions and sexual behavior, this paper will contribute an important missing element to the literature. Using a longitudinal, school-based sample of adolescents from southern Malawi, this paper will examine (1) the association between HIV risk perception and schooling outcomes, (2) the association between HIV risk perception and the subsequent onset of sexual activity and (3) the impact of sexual onset of HIV risk perceptions.

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Presented in Session 30: Socioeconomic Status, HIV/STIs and Safe Sexual Behavior