In an interview with URN on Thursday, Dr. Joseph Matovu, an HIV researcher based at the Makerere University School of Public Health said 16% of the girls that were out of school revealed to have started intercourse by age 15 compared to only 8% of those in school.
Researchers are asking healthcare managers to design
target-specific risk reduction interventions into sexually transmitted diseases
such as syphilis and HIV after they found stark differences in age of first
sexual intercourse among girls in and out of school.
In an interview with URN on Thursday, Dr. Joseph Matovu, an HIV researcher based at the Makerere University School of Public Health said
16% of the girls that were out of school revealed to have started intercourse
by age 15 compared to only 8% of those in school.
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The study that was funded by the Global Fund involved 8,236
women and girls aged 10 to 24 years from 20 districts that record some of the
highest rates of teenage pregnancies and new HIV infections among adolescents
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The girls involved were also tested for HIV and syphilis and
they found more of the out of the school girls infected and yet again when they
assessed which of the two groups had had sex with two or more partners the previous year, the out of school
group also had a bigger number.
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Matovu says they also asked respondents whether their
first sexual intercourse was protected and 40% of the girls in school responded
in affirmative. Those out of school
reported not using condoms consistently and this therefore shows they engaged
more in risky behavior.
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Overall however, the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey
puts the average age of initial sex debut for girls at 16 years, but researchers say
even as their new statistics are in close range, government has been blundering
in a making a one coat fits all kind of interventions which may not be very
beneficial for specific category of girls.
For instance, Matovu says girls in school have an
opportunity to know how to prevent infection and the benefits of having safe
sex because of the access to information they are privileged with.