Journal Article

The adolescent sexual world and AIDS prevention: a democratic approach to programme design in Zimbabwe

Paulette Schatz and Kuzvinetsa P. Dzvimbo

in Health Promotion International

Volume 16, issue 2, pages 127-136
Published in print June 2001 | ISSN: 0957-4824
Published online June 2001 | e-ISSN: 1460-2245 | DOI:
The adolescent sexual world and AIDS prevention: a democratic approach to programme design in Zimbabwe

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The main aim of this study was to redress the under-representation of adolescent attitudes in AIDS prevention programme design and to discuss the implications of a democratic sexuality education approach within a health promotion context. The study surveyed the attitudes of adolescents (average age 16 years) on sex-related topics such as culture, marriage, sexual behaviour and sex education, identified similarities and differences in attitudes according to gender and socio-economic environments, and examined sources of students' knowledge of selected sex-related topics. Questionnaires were completed by 3429 secondary school students from different backgrounds. Findings showed significant differences in attitude related to gender and socio-economic settings and also in sources of information. The study drew on a democratic sexuality education approach. Using this approach, adolescents review ideological perspectives and decide which are most appropriate for them as guides in making decisions about their own lives. This type of education is fully consistent with the principles of democratic living and gives guidance to teenagers who are trying to decide how to live a healthy life. Study results suggest that programmers would be well advised to collect information from the adolescents' psycho-social-economic environment and link it with good governance and civil society strategies in developing AIDS prevention programmes that involve the adolescent in making lifestyle decisions. To achieve a more supportive environment for AIDS prevention, this approach can link adolescent attitudes and health promotion action to advocate for public policy reform, gender equality, multi-dimensional partnerships and social marketing.

Keywords: adolescent; AIDS prevention; democratic sexuality programme; good governance; health promotion interventions; programme design; sexual attitudes; supportive environment; Zimbabwe

Journal Article.  5073 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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