The Progress of Nations

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 My song against AIDS
       
 Data briefs: Progress and disparity  
  

Seeing no risk in sex

 

In eight countries in which HIV/ AIDS has reached epidemic levels, with 5% or more of the population infected, a significant proportion of sexually active girls (aged 15-19) think they face no risk of contracting the disease, according to results of recent surveys.

In three countries – Haiti, Zambia and Zimbabwe – the misperception of risk was shared by 63%, 52% and 50% of girls, respectively, and by more than 40% of girls in three other countries surveyed.

These surveys are helping uncover a number of critical challenges in communicating essential information needed to combat the epidemic, particularly to girls in this age group.

One such challenge is how to help young people convert the information they have about HIV/AIDS into personal awareness of risk. This is illustrated by the situation in both Zambia and Zimbabwe, where HIV prevalence is very high (19% and 25%, respectively) and relatively high proportions of girls can name ways to protect themselves. Nevertheless, more than 50% of sexually active girls in both countries still do not consider themselves at any risk of getting AIDS.

One gleam of hope comes from Uganda, where prevalence rates at the time of the survey were higher than they are now. The percentage of girls who responded that they were unaware of any risk to themselves was lowest there (21%), partly as a result of an aggressive and effective government-sponsored AIDS awareness campaign.

 

Source DHS,1994-1999
* At the time of survey as measured among pregnant women(in surveillance studies,1994-1999).
Source: DHS, 1994-1999.

 

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