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J Health Popul Nutr. 2007 Sep;25(3):344-50.

Factors predisposing out-of-school youths to HIV/AIDS-related risky sexual behaviour in northwest Ethiopia.

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Department of Community Health, Addis Ababa University, PO Box 11950, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


Ethiopia is a developing country with a demographic profile dominated by a young population. Due to biological, psychological, sociocultural and economic factors, young people, particularly those aged 15-24 years, are generally at a high risk of HIV/AIDS and other reproductive health problems. This paper presents results of a cross-sectional descriptive study conducted in Bahir Dar town, northwest Ethiopia, to assess factors that predispose out-of-school youths to HIV/AIDS-related risk behaviours. Both quantitative and qualitative data-collection methods were employed to conduct the study. For quantitative data collection, a household interview survey was conducted among 628 out-of-school youths, aged 15-24 years, within the 17 kebeles (villages) of the town. The number of respondents in each kebele was assigned proportional to the size of kebele, and the required numbers of respondents within each kebele were selected through a systematic random-sampling technique. Qualitative data were collected by conducting five focus-group discussions with 46 participants and in-depth interviews with 10 participants. Institutional ethical clearance and informed verbal consent from the study participants were obtained before undertaking the study. Of the 628 study subjects, 64.8% had experienced sexual intercourse at the time of the survey. The mean age at first sexual commencement was 17.7 (+2) years. Of those sexually active, 33% had sexual intercourse with non-regular partners (the proportions were 40.6% among males and 24.7% among females, suggesting that males tended to be about two times more likely to have sex with non-regular sexual partners than females (odds ratio = 1.78, with 95% confidence interval 1.16-2.73). Furthermore, consistent condom-use among those who had sex in exchange for money was low (36%). Alcohol intake, chewing of khat (a green leaf), low educational background, and being male were significantly associated with having sex with either a commercial or a non-regular sexual partner. In view of the magnitude of high-risk sexual behaviours among out-of-school youths that may expose them to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, efforts need to be exerted to deal with the identified predisposing factors and to address the problems of idleness, lack of jobs, and hopelessness.

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