For Immediate Release: July 22, 2004
LOCALLY DESIGNED INTERVENTION SUCCEEDS IN ENCOURAGING SAFER SEXUAL BEHAVIOR AMONG YOUNG PEOPLE IN KENYA
And other research from the latest International Family Planning Perspectives
Young people living in the area served by the Nyeri Youth Health Project in Kenya are more likely than other adolescents to abstain from sex and to use condoms according to "Behavior Change Evaluations of a Culturally Consistent Reproductive Health Program for Young Kenyans," by Annabel S. Erulkar of Population Council, Accra, Ghana and Linus I.A. Ettyang et al. of the Family Planning Association of Kenya. Consistent with the local tradition—in which parents nominate other adults to advise their children on issues of sexuality as part of their initiation into adulthood—program managers trained 25 well-known young parents as reproductive health counselors. Over the course of three years, the counselors conducted a range of activities with young people including discussions, role playing, drama and lectures. A postintervention survey of 10-24-year-olds found that young people living in the project area were more likely than other young people to discuss issues of sexuality with adults and to protect themselves against HIV/AIDS and unintended pregnancy.
Also in Kenya, evidence from a 1998 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) suggest that a distinction should be made between married people simply discussing family planning with one another and actually understanding the other person’s point of view. In "Does Discussion of Family Planning Improve Knowledge of Partner’s Attitude Toward Contraceptives?" Authors Laurie F. DeRose of the University of Maryland et al. pursue this distinction by examining DHS data from 21 countries in Africa. Women who had discussed family planning with their husbands were more likely than those who had not to accurately report his approval; however, they were not more likely to accurately report his disapproval. The authors conclude, therefore, that women interpreted their husbands’ willingness to discuss contraception as approval, regardless of his actual views.
The government of Lesotho has committed to ambitious population goals, pledging to both increase contraceptive use and reduce family size in the next few years. In "“Provision of Family Planning Services in Lesotho," authors ‘Maletela Tuoane of the National University of Lesotho et al. find that women’s access to contraceptive services has been limited by inconvenient hours of operation, inconsistent standards of privacy and overall care and inconsistent pricing of medication. To achieve their target contraceptive rate of 70-75% by 2011, the government should focus on improving the quality of family planning services.
In " Family Planning and Women’s Lives in Rural China," authors Karen Hardee of the Futures Group et al. find that rural Chinese women feel pressure to both have a son and limit the size of their families. Women from several generations participated in focus group discussions in three Chinese provinces of varying economic levels. The oldest women regretted not having had access to means of limiting the size of their families while the youngest women had lived with the one-child restrictions their entire lives and were resigned to having small families. Women of all ages and in all provinces felt pressure to have sons.
Microbicides--substances applied topically to either the vagina or the rectum to help prevent transmission of STIs--hold great promise for reducing women's risk of STIs by offering a female-controlled alternative to the male condom. " Covert Use of Topical Microbicides: Implications for Acceptability and Use," by Cynthia Woodsong, discusses the risks and benefits of covert use of the method.
All articles appear in the June 2004 issue of International Family Planning Perspectives, a quarterly journal providing the latest peer-reviewed research on sexual and reproductive health and rights in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia.