South Africa is making tremendous progress in the fight against HIV, however, adolescent girls and young women aged 15–24 years (AGYW) remain at higher risk of new HIV infections. This paper investigates socio-demographic and behavioural determinants of HIV infection among AGYW in South Africa.
A secondary data analysis was undertaken based on the 2012 population-based nationally representative multi-stage stratified cluster random household sample. Multivariate stepwise backward and forward regression modelling was used to determine factors independently associated with HIV prevalence.
Out of 3092 interviewed and tested AGYW 11.4% were HIV positive. Overall HIV prevalence was significantly higher among young women (17.4%) compared to adolescent girls (5.6%). In the AGYW model increased risk of HIV infection was associated with being young women aged 20–24 years (OR = 2.30, p = 0.006), and condom use at last sex (OR = 1.91, p = 0.010), and decreased likelihood was associated with other race groups (OR = 0.06, p < 0.001), sexual partner within 5 years of age (OR = 0.53, p = 0.012), tertiary level education (OR = 0.11, p = 0.002), low risk alcohol use (OR = 0.19, p = 0.022) and having one sexual partner (OR = 0.43, p = 0.028). In the adolescent girls model decreased risk of HIV infection was associated with other race groups (OR = 0.01, p < 0.001), being married (OR = 0.07), p = 0.016], and living in less poor household (OR = 0.08, p = 0.002). In the young women’s models increased risk of HIV infection was associated with condom use at last sex (OR = 2.09, p = 0.013), and decreased likelihood was associated with other race groups (OR = 0.17, p < 0.001), one sexual partner (OR = 0.6, p = 0.014), low risk alcohol use (OR = 0.17, p < 0.001), having a sexual partner within 5 years of age (OR = 0.29, p = 0.022), and having tertiary education (OR = 0.29, p = 0.022).
These findings support the need to design combination prevention interventions which simultaneously address socio-economic drivers of the HIV epidemic, promote education, equity and access to schooling, and target age-disparate partnerships, inconsistent condom use and risky alcohol consumption.