Sexual activity, knowledge about HIV/AIDS and willingness to test for HIV among young people in Botswana

  • Gary J. Linn
  • Thabo T. Fako


Botswana has an HIV prevalence rate of 38.8 percent, the highest in the world (UNAIDS, 2004).This study identifies factors that explain three important issues in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Botswana. These issues are sexual activity, knowledge about HIV/AIDS, and willingness to test for HIV infection among young people (12-23 years old).
The data were collected using a 76 item self-administered questionnaire, which solicited information on demographic and background characteristics of respondents, the extent of their sexual activity, their knowledge about HIV/AIDS, and their willingness to test for HIV infection. The questionnaire was completed by 1294 students from a national sample of 84 educational institutions including (1) community junior secondary schools, (2) senior secondary schools, and (3) rural and urban post-secondary institutions.
The study found sexual activity among students to be associated with rural residence, low socio-economic status, and having parents who are unemployed. Further, the findings indicate that family cohesion and the
stability of the home environment for children are associated with sexual activity in young people. The study also reported that girls were more willing to test than boys, and students from more privileged backgrounds
were more willing to test than those from less privileged households.
This analysis concludes that the problems of sexual activity and willingness to test for HIV among youth in Botswana are part of a general problem of poor familial relationships, lack of family cohesion and stability of the home environment for children, and poor psychological development.


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