Adolescents' Sexual Health in Uganda: Abstinence-Only and Perceived Autonomy

Billie de Haas, University of Groningen
Inge Hutter, University of Groningen

Abstinence-only programmes are said to be endangering adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health and rights in Uganda. The Ugandan government has been implementing an ABC strategy, i.e. Abstinence, Be faithful, use Condoms, which has been assigned to a successful drop in HIV prevalence since 1992. However, for unmarried adolescents, the government narrowed down this successful strategy to the criticised Abstinence-only strategy. Nowadays, HIV prevention programmes in schools contain mainly abstinence-until-marriage messages and the promotion of condoms is prohibited in secondary schools. Based on in-depth interviews and Focus Group Discussions with 15-to-19-year-old adolescents at a mixed secondary school in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, this paper explores adolescents’ perceptions on abstaining from sexual intercourse. Using the Reasoned Action Approach (Fishbein and Ajzen 2010), the paper concludes that abound messages of abstinence, from teachers among others, may lead to a feeling of perceived low autonomy of “bodily urges” to abstain from sexual intercourse.

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Presented in Session 77: Reproductive Health Services and Prevention in Sub-Saharan Africa