"Being faithful" in a sexual relationship: perceptions of Tanzanian adolescents in the context of HIV and pregnancy prevention.
Little is known about what adolescents think about faithfulness and partner reduction for HIV prevention (the "B" in the ABC HIV prevention behavior change strategy), including how they understand its implementation within relationships. In addition, because adolescents face the twin threats of HIV and unintended pregnancy, it is important to understand how adolescents may integrate their thinking on pregnancy prevention if they are using faithfulness or partner reduction as their HIV prevention strategy. This study gathered evidence by conducting 20 focus group discussions (FGDs) with 158 adolescents, aged 14-20. The FGDs were stratified by sex, age, current school attendance, rural or urban residence, and marital status. Results showed that the vast majority of groups felt that "B" messages are important and relevant for unmarried (as well as married) youth to hear for HIV prevention, but the messages need to be explicit (e.g., "being faithful means having only one tested sexual partner at a time"). Faithful relationships are perceived as ideal in terms of romantic expectations and HIV prevention, but were considered unrealistic if the relationship had a power imbalance. Adolescents acknowledged the risks of multiple partners and a few recognized that concurrent partnerships are riskier than serial partnerships. Condoms were given as the primary method for pregnancy prevention among youth, yet faithfulness was usually seen as precluding condom use and many youth considered condom use as evidence of a lack of faithfulness. Overall, adolescents recognized that practicing fidelity is complex. Young people need life skills education for how to establish and maintain faithful relationships with one tested partner and how to integrate condom use for pregnancy prevention within that relationship. Programs also need to more explicitly address the issues of trust and repeat HIV testing within "faithful" relationships which is an uncomfortable but necessary reality for many adolescents.
Baumgartner, JN; Lugina, H; Johnson, L; Nyamhanga, T
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