How Alcohol, Space, and Time Influence Young People’s Sexual Encounters in Tanzania: A Qualitative Analysis
A significant under-addressed issue in the global adolescent health agenda is the interaction between alcohol use and sexual encounters among adolescent boys and girls in sub-Saharan Africa. The aim of this study was to explore the structural and environmental factors influencing young people’s access to and use of alcohol, and subsequent engagement in safe or unsafe sexual behaviors in such contexts, from the perspective of young people themselves.
The study used qualitative and participatory methodologies to explore the experiences and perspectives of 177 adolescent girls and boys in and out of school in four sites across Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Findings suggest that alcohol use intersects with a spatial dimension in relation to where youths are consuming alcohol and subsequently engaging in sex. This in turn influences young people’s likelihood of using condoms and practicing safer sex. The spatial dimension was found to be influenced by time, gender, age, economics, and social norms around the carrying of and use of condoms.
Interventions are needed that both address the gendered and social sanctioning of youth carrying condoms in Tanzania and that increase the availability of condoms where alcohol is sold and consumed.
It is key to keep youth at the center of public health research focused on improving their sexual and reproductive health,” said Marni Sommer, DrPH, RN, associate professor of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia Mailman School and lead researcher of the study, as per Medical Xpress.
They are the knowers of their own lives, and often have the most useful insights for how to best address the vulnerabilities they encounter in daily life.”