Community perspectives on parental influence on engagement in multiple concurrent sexual partnerships among youth in Tanzania: Implications for HIV prevention programming

Jessica A. Fehringer, Stella Babalola, Caitlin E. Kennedy, Lusajo J. Kajula, Jessie K. Mbwambo, Deanna Kerrigan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Although concurrent sexual partnerships (CPs) have been hypothesized to be an important risk factor for HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, the social and cultural factors that encourage CPs are not well understood. This study explored the community's perspectives on the role that parents can play in influencing their children's decision to engage in CPs. We conducted 16 in-depth interviews, 32 focus group discussions, and 16 key informant interviews with 280 adult participants in Tanzania. Data were coded; findings and conclusions were developed based on themes that emerged from coding. Three parental influences on CPs emerged: parent-child communication about sex, both silent and explicit encouragement of CPs, and parental behavior modeling. Parents are typically either too busy or too "embarrassed" to talk with their children about sex and CPs. The information parents do give is often confusing, fear-based, inadequate, and/or only focused on daughters. Parents themselves also encourage CPs through complicity of silence when their daughters come home with extra cash or consumer goods. In some cases, parents overtly encourage their children, particularly daughters, to practice CPs due to the promise of money from wealthy partners. Finally, when parents engage in CPs, the children themselves learn to behave similarly. These results suggest that parents can influence their children's decision to engage in CPs. HIV prevention interventions should address this by promoting parent-child communication about sexuality; associated disease risks and gender-equitable relationships; promoting positive parental role modeling; and educating parents on the implications of encouragement of CPs in their children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-214
Number of pages8
JournalAIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2013

    Fingerprint

Keywords

  • Tanzania
  • concurrent sexual partnerships
  • parent-child communication
  • sexual behavior
  • youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this