The Peer Group Context of Sexual Behaviors among Ghanaian Youth

Jeffrey Bingenheimer, George Washington University
Clement Ahiadeke, University of Ghana
Elizabeth Asante, University of Ghana

Little is known about the influences of friends and peers on the sexual and condom use behaviors of youth in sub-Saharan Africa. Using longitudinal survey data from two towns in southeastern Ghana, we examine the associations of several peer group characteristics with self-reported sexual activity among youth. In cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses, we find that having opposite friends, perceiving that some or all of one’s friends are sexually active, affiliating with prosocial peers, affiliating with antisocial peers, perceiving that one’s friends disapprove of sexual activity, and perceiving that one can gain the respect of peers through sexual activity are all strongly associated with sexual initiation and multiple partnerships for both girls and boys. None of these variables predicts condom use with first or most recent partners. Multivariate analyses suggest that it is not possible to disentangle the effects of these peer group characteristics from one another.

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Presented in Session 98: Influences on Intimate Behaviors