Influence of religious affiliation and education on HIV knowledge and HIV-related sexual behaviors among youth in rural central Mozambique.
Noden, Bruce H.
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The interactions between religious affiliation, education, HIV knowledge, and HIV-related sexual behaviors among African church youth are poorly understood. In this socio-demographic study, 522 unmarried youth 12-28 years old in rural central Mozambique were surveyed with a structured questionnaire. Using binary logistic regression analysis, we used religious affiliation and education to measure influence on (1) HIV transmission and prevention knowledge and attitudes and (2) HIV-related sexual behaviors among youth. Religiously affiliated males were more likely than non-religious males to know when a condom should be used, respond correctly to HIV transmission questions and respond with less stigma to HIV-related scenarios. Increased levels of education among males corresponded significantly to increased knowledge of condom usage and HIV prevention strategies and less likelihood to respond with stigma. Only education levels influenced young female responses. Religious affiliation and education had minimal effects on sexual activity, condom usage, and multiple partnerships. African Independent Church/Zionist males were 1.6 more likely to be sexually inexperienced than nonreligious males but were also significantly less likely to use condoms (0.23, p=0.024). Non-religious youth were most likely to have visited sex workers and did not use condoms. These results suggest that religious affiliation, possibly as the result of educational opportunities afforded by religious-affiliated schools, is contributing to increased HIV transmission and prevention knowledge among youth in rural Central Mozambique but not influencing HIV-related sexual behavior. The need exists to strengthen the capacity of religious congregations to teach about HIV/AIDS and target non-religious youth with HIV transmission and prevention information.