Age-of-Consent Policies and HIV Among Adolescents in SubSahara Africa [DISSERTATION]

Age-of-Consent Policies and HIV Among Adolescents in SubSahara Africa [DISSERTATION]
Suzanne Marie King
Walden University, 2021
Open Access
Abstract
Age of consent policies have recently been identified as a barrier to HIV testing among adolescents in HIV endemic Sub-Sahara Africa. Grounded in the modified social ecological model, the purpose of this study was to determine if these policies were related to HIV testing rates and prevalence. In this quantitative research secondary data sets from the Demographic Health Survey were used. This study included all sexually active respondents aged 18 years or below (N=37,015) and then was further limited by respondents that had HIV test results (N=25,107). Binary logistic regression showed that respondents with lower age of consent had higher rates of HIV testing. Compared to respondents with an age of consent of 18 years, respondents with age of consent of 16 were 3 times more likely to have been tested (p<0.001, OR 2.876, 95% CI [2.697, 3.067]), age of consent of 15 were 1.5 times more likely to be tested, age of consent of 14 were 0.5 times less likely to be tested, age of consent of 13 were 5 times more likely to be tested, age of consent of 12 were 3 times more likely to be tested, and age of consent of 11 were 2 times more likely to have been tested. Age of consent was also related to HIV prevalence. For each year decrease in age of consent, odds of being HIV positive increased by 1.2%. The outcomes of this study showed further relationships between HIV testing and age of consent policies. This research can be used to inform updated age of consent policies to ensure that all adolescents can access HIV testing. This research could shed light on the importance of HIV testing for adolescents, their families, and their communities leading to positive social change.

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