Cross-Generational Sex

Cross-generational sex, defined as non-marital sexual relationships between young women and men who are ten or more years older, is common throughout Africa and puts young women at higher risk for violence, unintended pregnancies, HIV and other STI. Young women in these relationships have limited negotiating power with older men leading to inconsistent condom use.

Qualitative research conducted by PSI in Kenya helped reveal key motivations behind these relationships, including material or financial benefits for young women and sexual gratification for men. In addition, the risk-perception of HIV and STI in cross-generational relationships is low, because young women perceive that older men are faithful and men believe younger women are sexually inexperienced.

In Uganda, PSI developed a comprehensive program using multiple communication channels to reach not only older men and younger women, but also community leaders and parents whose ambivalence and inaction towards cross-generational sex allow the practice to continue. Evaluation of the program found that young women exposed to intervention activities were more likely to reject cross-generational sex; have increased self-confidence and ability to refuse sex with older men; and recognize the health risks associated with cross-generational relationships. PSI also has programs targeting cross-generational relationships in Botswana, Cameroon, Kenya Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, and Togo.

Related content by category
Health Areas: HIV