Sexual violence and reproductive health outcomes among South African female youths: a contextual analysis


Author(s): Speizer I, Pettifor A, Cummings S, MacPhail C, Kleinschmidt I, Rees H

Year: 2009

AJPH 2009. 99(S2):S425-S431.

Objectives. We studied whether female youths from communities with higher sexual violence were at greater risk of negative reproductive health outcomes.

Methods. We used data from a 2003 nationally representative household survey of youths aged 15–24 years in South Africa. The key independent variable was whether a woman had ever been threatened or forced to have sex. We aggregated this variable to the community level to determine, with control for individual-level experience with violence, whether the community-level prevalence of violence was associated with HIV status and adolescent pregnancy among female, sexually experienced, never-married youths.

Results. Youths from communities with greater sexual violence were significantly more likely to have experienced an adolescent pregnancy or to be HIV-positive than were youths from communities experiencing lower sexual violence. Youths from communities with greater community-level violence were also less likely to have used a condom at their last sexual encounter. Individual-level violence was only associated with condom nonuse.

Conclusions. Programs to reduce adolescent pregnancies and HIV risk in South Africa and elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa must address sexual violence as part of effective prevention strategies.


Filed under: Maternal Health