Sexual, reproductive health needs, and rights of young people in Slum Areas of Kampala, Uganda: A cross sectional study

Andre M.N. Renzaho, Joseph K. Kamara, Nichole Georgeou, Gilbert Kamanga

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Background: Young people in Uganda face various sexual and reproductive health risks, especially those living in urban slums. The aim of this study was to examine factors associated with comprehensive categories of sexual and reproductive health, including sexual behaviours; sexual education and access to contraceptive services; family planning; prevention of STDs; sexual consent as a right; gender based violence; as well as HIV testing, counselling, disclosure and support. Methods: The study was cross-sectional in design and was carried out in July 2014 in Makindye and Nakawa Divisions of Kampala City, Uganda. Using systematic random sampling, data were collected on 663 participants aged between 13 and 24 years in Kampala's urban slums. Results: Sixty two percent of participants reported having ever had sex and the mean age of sexual debut was 16 years (95%CI: 15.6,16.4 years, range: 5-23 years). The odds of reporting ever having had sexual intercourse were higher among respondents living alone (OR: 2.75; 95%CI: 1.35, 5.61; p<0.01) than those living in a nuclear family. However, condom use was only 54%. The number of sexual partners in the last 12 months preceding the survey averaged 1.8 partners (95%CI: 1.7,1.9; range 1-4) with 18.1% reporting an age gap of 10 years or older. More than three quarters (80.6%) of sexually active participants reported that their first sexual encounter was consensual, suggesting that most young people are choosing when they make their sexual debut. Low prevalence of willing first sexual intercourse was associated with younger age (OR = 0.48, 95%CI: 0.25, 0.90, p<0.05), having a disability (OR = 0.40, 95%CI: 0.16, 0.98, p<0.05), living with non-relatives (OR = 0.44, 95%CI: 0.16, 0.97, p<0.05), and being still at school (OR = 0.29, 95%CI: 0.12, 0.67, p<0.01). These results remained significant after adjusting for covariates, except for disability and the age of participants. The proportion of unwilling first sexual intercourse was significantly higher among women for persuasion (13.2% vs. 2.4%, p<0.001), being tricked (7.1% vs 2.9%, p<0.05) and being forced or raped (9.9% vs 4.4%, p<0.05) than men. A high level of sexual abuse emerged from the data with 34.3% affirming that it was alright for a boy to force a girl to have sex if he had feelings for her; 73.3% affirming that it was common for strangers and relatives to force young females to have sexual intercourse with them without consent; 26.3% indicating that it was sometimes justifiable for a boy to hit his girlfriend, as long as they loved each other. Conclusion: This study has explored current sexual practice among young people in a specific part of urban Kampala. Young people's sexual and reproductive health remains a challenge in Uganda. To address these barriers, a comprehensive and harmonised sexual and reproductive health system that is youth friendly and takes into account local socio-cultural contexts is urgently needed.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0169721
Number of pages21
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017

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