A longitudinal analysis of the effects of orphaning on sexual debut in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa (PDF)
Poster presentation at XVI International AIDS Conference, Toronto, 13-18 August
Publication date: 2006
Although orphan status is believed to be a risk factor for unsafe sexual behaviors among adolescents in developing countries-particularly girls-few studies document the relationship, and those that exist are mainly cross-sectional in nature.
A population-based sample of 2,200 14-22-year-olds in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa was interviewed twice, with a two-year time interval. Multivariate fixed-effects logit regression analysis is utilized to assess the effects of recent orphaning on sexual debut between survey rounds. The advantage of this method is that the influences of all time-invariant factors-observed and unobserved-at the individual, family, and community levels are controlled for.
After controlling for all time-invariant and key time-varying factors (age, schooling, household poverty status, and household size), adolescents who became orphaned between survey waves were 3.1 times more likely (p<0.03) to sexually debut between waves than same-age adolescents who did not lose a parent to death during this period. By orphan type, the analysis reveals that new paternal orphans were 6.2 times more likely (p<0.003) to debut sexually than counterparts not experiencing death of a father. Disaggregating by gender and orphan type reveals that female (p<0.03) and male (p<0.007) new paternal orphans were 11.9 and 9.8 times more likely, respectively, to sexually debut between survey rounds. The results also indicate that residing in a poor household was not a statistically significant predictor of male sexual debut, but it increased female odds of sexual debut between survey rounds by 8.5 times (p<0.02).
Recent parental death, in particular of a father, is a risk factor for sexual debut among female and male adolescents in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Residing in a poor household is an added risk factor for females.