Who are the male sexual partners of adolescent girls and young women? Comparative analysis of population data in three settings prior to DREAMS roll-out
The DREAMS (Determined Resilient Empowered AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe) Partnership aims to reduce HIV incidence among adolescent girls and young women (AGYW,15-24y) with a core package of evidence-based interventions. Some interventions, including voluntary HIV counselling and testing and circumcision, will be targeted at the male sexual partners of AGYW. A priority of DREAMS is to characterise the male partners for effective targeting.
Using population-based data (2010–2015) in three DREAMS impact evaluation settings in Kenya and South Africa, we describe the demographic characteristics and sexual behaviour of male partners reported by AGYW, and the characteristics of males who report sexual activity with AGYW.
In all settings, over 90% of recent male partners reported by AGYW were aged <35 years. Median ages of spousal and non-spousal partners were 29 and 23 years respectively in uMkhanyakude (rural South Africa) and 21 and 20 years respectively in Nairobi (urban Kenya). Most males reporting an AGYW partner had never been married (89%) and many were in school (39%). Most male partners reported only 1 AGYW partner in the past year; in Gem (rural Kenya) and Nairobi 25%-29% reported 2+(AGYW or older female) partners. Concurrent partners were reported by 16% of male partners in Gem and 3–4% in uMkhanyakude. Two thirds of male partners in Gem reported testing for HIV in the past 6 months and under half in uMkhanyakude reported testing for HIV in the past year. Almost all (96%) partners in Nairobi were circumcised, compared to 45% in Gem and 43% in uMkhanyakude.
With almost all AGYW’s sexual partners aged 15–34 years, this is an appropriate target group for DREAMS interventions. Encouraging young men to reduce their number of partners and concurrency, and uptake prevention and treatment services such as HIV testing, circumcision and ART is crucial in the effort to reduce HIV among both AGYW and young men.