Publications & Reports

Sexual partner types and related sexual health risk among out-of-school adolescents in rural south-west Uganda.

Nobelius AM, Kalina B, Pool R, Whitworth J, Chesters J, Power R
Monash University, Clayton, VIC, Australia. [email protected]


This paper defines the range of sexual partners chosen by out-of-school adolescents from Masaka District in rural south-west Uganda, and implications for sexual and reproductive health discussed. Data are drawn from a sexual health needs assessment using applied anthropological techniques with 31 adolescents, their parents, guardians and community leaders. Data were analysed using inductive thematic methods. Out-of-school adolescents are exposed to risk both stable and casual sexual relationships. Young men and women want a stable relationship with one reliable partner. Young men seek a “steady” relationship with younger schoolgirls; some also seek multiple “casual” relationships with young women easily convinced with gifts. Young women accept “permanent” partnerships with traders or transport workers one-three years older than themselves; some accept “casual” relationship with age mates, others have “casual” relationships with older men. All relationships involve the exchange of gifts and money. Older partners, or “sugar daddies”, are valued, despite the knowledge they are more likely to be HIV positive, because they offer greater financial rewards than age mates. Though far less common, some older women seek relationships with younger men, but are treated with suspicion by young men, who believe they are seeking to “infect” them “maliciously” with AIDS. The community sees these relationships as a source of AIDS in adolescents, and condemn older men, whom they believe to be “killing” the younger generation. Both young men and women are exposure to sexual health risk in their primary partnerships; young men in partnerships with schoolgirls who have concurrent partnerships with older men, unlikely to use condoms and young women with partners who work, and have casual relationships in urban trading centres. Health promotion encouraging partnership with age mates, discouraging sex with older partners and 100% condom use before marriage are most appropriate for out-of-school adolescents in this context.


  • Journal: AIDS Care
  • Published: 01/02/2011
  • Volume: 23
  • Issue: 2
  • Pagination: 252-259