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Study Finds Huge Difference in Age of First Sex for 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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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 and youth. 

 

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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.  

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