Young People's Lives and Sexual Relationships in Rural Africa: Findings from a Large Qualitative Study in Tanzania

Young People's Lives and Sexual Relationships in Rural Africa: Findings from a Large Qualitative Study in Tanzania

by Mary Louisa Plummer, Daniel Wight
     
 

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New infections with HIV remain an urgent problem among young people in Africa, but many young Africans pursue sexual relationships with little thought about the epidemic. This book examines young people's sexual relationships in a region typical of rural sub-Saharan Africa and investigates why the risk of HIV infection generally was not a salient concern for them.

Overview

New infections with HIV remain an urgent problem among young people in Africa, but many young Africans pursue sexual relationships with little thought about the epidemic. This book examines young people's sexual relationships in a region typical of rural sub-Saharan Africa and investigates why the risk of HIV infection generally was not a salient concern for them. It is based on an extraordinarily large and representative qualitative study that was affiliated with an adolescent sexual health intervention trial and included three person-years of participant observation conducted by young East Africans in nine Tanzanian villages. The book describes typical patterns of sexual relationship formation in adolescence and early adult life, the variety of young people's relationships and practices, and the contradictory social ideals and expectations that led premarital and extramarital relationships to be concealed. Young men's main motivations for sex were pleasure and masculine identity, while young women's was to receive money or materials to meet their basic needs, such as soap or a daytime meal. By their late teens most young people had experienced one-time sexual encounters, open-ended opportunistic relationships, and "main" sometimes semi-public partnerships. Relationships could involve desire, possessiveness, and affection, but romantic idealization of a partner was rare. Many young people expected their partners to be monogamous, but themselves had had concurrent relationships by age 20. The practice of hiding premarital sexual relationships from adults often also concealed them from other sexual partners, which helped maintain concurrency and inhibited realistic risk perception. Understanding of the biology of HIV/AIDS was very limited. Condoms were rarely used because they were associated with reduced pleasure, infection and promiscuity. Sexually transmitted infections were common, but several factors hindered young people from seeking biomedical treatment for them. Many instead relied on tradit

Editorial Reviews

CHOICE
This study conducted during 1999-2002 is concentrated on the young people in rural Mwanza Region, northern Tanzania, on the southern shore of Lake Victoria. The area is occupied mostly by Sukuma and smaller ethnic groups, all of whom speak Swahili. Only 7 percent of Tanzania's school-age population was enrolled in secondary education... The vast majority of young women was sexually active and in relations—fleeting as they may have been—with men who supplied gifts or direct payment for sex. Only 12 percent of 15-19-year-old women reported ever having used contraceptive methods, mostly condoms. Plummer and Wight (both, UK Medical Research Council) suggest that (illegal) abortion was practiced widely. Counseling and behavior modification were most active in the realm of sexually transmitted infections. Many villagers in this study believed "real" AIDS was sexually transmitted, but also believed that a separate AIDS-mimicking illness was caused by witchcraft. Restrictive norms, rather than the threat of HIV infection, constrained sexual activity. The inclusion of detailed case studies makes this study personal and supplies depth. There is a Swahili and Sukuma glossary. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, faculty, professionals.
Choice
This study conducted during 1999-2002 is concentrated on the young people in rural Mwanza Region, northern Tanzania, on the southern shore of Lake Victoria. The area is occupied mostly by Sukuma and smaller ethnic groups, all of whom speak Swahili. Only 7 percent of Tanzania's school-age population was enrolled in secondary education... The vast majority of young women was sexually active and in relations—fleeting as they may have been—with men who supplied gifts or direct payment for sex. Only 12 percent of 15-19-year-old women reported ever having used contraceptive methods, mostly condoms. Plummer and Wight (both, UK Medical Research Council) suggest that (illegal) abortion was practiced widely. Counseling and behavior modification were most active in the realm of sexually transmitted infections. Many villagers in this study believed "real" AIDS was sexually transmitted, but also believed that a separate AIDS-mimicking illness was caused by witchcraft. Restrictive norms, rather than the threat of HIV infection, constrained sexual activity. The inclusion of detailed case studies makes this study personal and supplies depth. There is a Swahili and Sukuma glossary. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, faculty, professionals.
Population Studies
The book offers a rich description of the lives of young people in a high-HIV setting in rural Africa. It offers a glimpse into the lived experience of people in that setting, which should be of value to researchers trying to make sense of complex processes, as well as to policymakers when assessing the effectiveness of particular policies. They need all the help they can obtain: 30 years into the epidemic, we continue to fall short both in our research and in our policy initiatives in effectively combating the epidemic.
Studies In Family Planning
Young People’s Lives and Sexual Relationships in Rural Africa: Findings from a Large Qualitative Study in Tanzania is well organized, well written, and draws upon a unique dataset from rural Africa. The authors accomplish what they set out to achieve: the text provides a rich and detailed account of the sexual lives of young people in Tanzania, discusses the implications of the behaviors for HIV-prevention programs, and thoughtfully and comprehensively explores the challenges and strengths of conducting this type of qualitative data collection in rural African communities.
Janet Seeley
This excellent volume offers a remarkably thorough analysis of young people's lives and sexual relationships in Tanzania. The detailed qualitative analysis the authors provide shows the value of good ethnographic fieldwork for research in this sensitive and private sphere. This important book deserves to be widely read particularly by all those concerned about the well-being of young people.
Studies in Family Planning
Young People’s Lives and Sexual Relationships in Rural Africa: Findings from a Large Qualitative Study in Tanzania is well organized, well written, and draws upon a unique dataset from rural Africa. The authors accomplish what they set out to achieve: the text provides a rich and detailed account of the sexual lives of young people in Tanzania, discusses the implications of the behaviors for HIV-prevention programs, and thoughtfully and comprehensively explores the challenges and strengths of conducting this type of qualitative data collection in rural African communities.
Population Studies: A Journal of Demography
The book offers a rich description of the lives of young people in a high-HIV setting in rural Africa. It offers a glimpse into the lived experience of people in that setting, which should be of value to researchers trying to make sense of complex processes, as well as to policymakers when assessing the effectiveness of particular policies. They need all the help they can obtain: 30 years into the epidemic, we continue to fall short both in our research and in our policy initiatives in effectively combating the epidemic.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780739135785
Publisher:
Lexington Books
Publication date:
07/27/2011
Pages:
464
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Mary Plummer is a consultant to the UK Medical Research Council's Social and Public Health Sciences Unit. She lives in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Daniel Wight leads the Sexual Health and Families Program at the UK Medical Research Council's Social and Public Health Sciences Unit in Glasgow, Scotland.

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