Informing HIV prevention efforts targeting Liberian youth: a study using the PLACE method in Liberia
Springer Science and Business Media LLC -- Reproductive Health
DOI 10.1186/1742-4755-10-54
Keyword(s)
  1. HIV prevention
  2. Youth
  3. Research method
  4. Liberia
  5. Africa
Abstract(s)

Background

Preventing HIV infection among young people is a priority for the Liberian government. Data on the young people in Liberia are scarce but needed to guide HIV programming efforts.

Methods

We used the Priorities for Local AIDS Control Efforts (PLACE) method to gather information on risk behaviors that young people (ages 14 to 24) engage in or are exposed to that increase their vulnerability for HIV infection. Community informants identified 240 unique venues of which 150 were visited and verified by research staff. 89 of the 150 venues comprised our sampling frame and 571 females and 548 males were interviewed in 50 venues using a behavioral survey.

Results

Ninety-one percent of females and 86% of males reported being sexually active. 56% of females and 47% of males reported they initiated sexual activity before the age of 15. Among the sexually active females, 71% reported they had received money or a gift for sex and 56% of males reported they had given money or goods for sex. 20% of females and 6% males reported that their first sexual encounter was forced and 15% of females and 6% of males reported they had been forced to have sex in the past year. Multiple partnerships were common among both sexes with 81% females and 76% males reporting one or more sex partners in the past four weeks. Less than 1% reported having experiences with injecting drugs and only 1% of males reporting have sex with men. While knowledge of HIV/AIDS was high, prevention behaviors including HIV testing and condom use were low.

Conclusion

Youth-focused HIV efforts in Liberia need to address transactional sex and multiple and concurrent partnerships. HIV prevention interventions should include efforts to meet the economic needs of youth.