Premarital Sex, Procreation, and Problems of HIV Risk in Nigeria

Daniel Smith, Brown University

In Nigeria, research has documented a significant disparity between people's knowledge about HIV/AIDS and the extent to which they behave in ways to protect themselves. Combining data from a survey of 863 adolescent and unmarried young adults, in-depth interviews, and participant observation, this paper aims to explain some of this discrepancy. The paper argues that young migrants' sexual and contraception decisions are made in relation to norms about gender and values concerning procreation at least as much as they are in relation to fears of disease. Assessments of current and potential partners, choices about whether or not to have sex, and decisions about whether or not to use condoms are affected by shared cultural values regarding the importance of parenthood. These cultural conceptions of parenthood are gendered and put men and women in very different negotiating positions with regard to sex and contraception.

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Presented in Session 123: Gender, Sexuality, and Health