Capitalising on aspirations of adolescent girls and young women to reduce their sexual health risks: Implications for HIV prevention

Joyce Wamoyi, Mitzy Gafos, Lottie Howard-Merrill, Janet Seeley, Rebecca Meiksin, Nambusi Kygombe, Lori Heise, Ana Maria Buller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores adolescent girls’ and young women’s (AGYW) aspirations, factors that influence aspirations, and how their aspirations inform their sexual decision-making and behaviour. This study employed a qualitative design involving six participatory focus group discussions and 17 in-depth interviews with AGYW in–and out-of-school. Fieldwork was undertaken in rural and urban Tanzania. Thematic analysis was conducted using NVIVO software. Aspirations of AGYW’s were categorised as short and long-term. Short-term aspirations were associated with the social status derived from obtaining trendy items such as nice clothing, or smart phones. Long-term aspirations included completing secondary education, having a professional job, being respected, getting married and having children. Aspirations were influenced by aspects of the social context, such as peers and structural factors that dictated what was acceptable for respectable AGYW. AGYW lacked the independent capabilities to meet long-term aspirations such as completing education. In pursuit of their short–and long-term aspirations, AGYW engaged in higher risk sexual behaviours such as transactional sex, age-disparate sex and condomless sex. AGYW’s aspirations were important in determining their sexual decision making. Interventions should capitalise on AGYW’s aspirations when addressing their SRH risks by finding innovative ways of engaging them based on their circumstances and aspirations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1665-1674
Number of pages10
JournalGlobal public health
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2022


  • Aspirations
  • adolescent girls
  • sexual and reproductive health
  • transactional sex
  • young women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Capitalising on aspirations of adolescent girls and young women to reduce their sexual health risks: Implications for HIV prevention'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this