Social Isolation and Economic Vulnerability: Adolescent HIV and Pregnancy Risk Factors in South Africa
Kelly Hallman, Population Council
Judith A. Diers, Population Council
Young people making the transition to adulthood in South Africa face a unique set of challenges. Traditional belief systems disempower young people and women. Historical income inequalities remain. Unemployment rates for blacks exceed 30 percent, with young people and women being disproportionately affected. This challenging social and economic environment has deepened the effects of HIV/AIDS--especially for young women in KwaZulu-Natal. Indicators reveal that for every two infected 15-24 year-old males in South Africa, there are five infected females the same age. Adolescent childbearing remains high with 30 percent of females giving birth before age 20. Despite these realities, few studies of adolescent sexual and reproductive health behavior in South Africa have examined the influences of social isolation and economic vulnerability, and fewer still have considered how these factors interact with gender to influence behaviors. We use a new panel study from KwaZulu-Natal to fill some of these knowledge gaps.