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Girls' Vulnerability to HIV and AIDS: The Case of Murehwa District, Zimbabwe

Naomi N Wekwete, University of Zimbabwe
Nyasha Madzingira, SAFAIDS

The study was undertaken among 538 girls aged 15-19 in 2004 in Murehwa District, Zimbabwe, to determine girls perceptions on their risk to HIV and AIDS, and why they are vulnerable, using both quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection. The results revealed that a small percentage of girls admitted to sexual activity. A significant proportion of the sexually experienced girls reported that they were forced, raped, coerced or tricked into initiation of sexual activity. Although most girls perceived themselves not at risk of HIV infection, misconceptions of the pandemic prevail among some of the girls. Self-efficacy in condom use was low and more barriers to condom use were reported. Economic and socio-cultural factors such as poverty, “sugar-daddies”, wife inheritance, the unhygienic practices during healing sessions by traditional and faith healers, traditional beliefs, some religious values and practices, and peer pressure were also cited as contributing to the high risk.

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Presented in Session 12: Adolescents' sexual and reproductive health