23.06.2004 General News

HIV/AIDS prevalence has not led to change in sexual behaviour

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Accra, June 23, GNA - The Promiscuous sexual behaviour among young people in Ghana has not declined with the on set of HIV/AIDS, a Reproductive Health Scientist said in Accra on Wednesday.

Dr Samuel Agyei-Mensah of the Department of Geography and Resource Development, University of Ghana (UG), Legon said fertility rates have, however, declined.

Dr Agyei- Mensah was speaking on: "The Research Record" at a two day- symposium on "Reproductive Change in Ghana: Recent Patterns, Future Prospects" organised by the Geography Department of the University with sponsorship from the USAID.

"The role of abortions in the fertility transition is increasingly being put forward to explain recent transitions in West African cities," he said, adding, this conclusion was because the use of modern forms of contraceptives have not increased in relation to the drop in fertility rates.

The Ghana Demographic Health Survey found out that contraceptive use in Ghana increased from 5.2 per cent in 1988 to 10 per cent in 1993 and 19 per cent in 2003, he said.

Dr Agyei-Mensah said research conducted among 90 young women in Accra revealed that they had gone through an abortion at least once between the ages of 14 and 19 years.

He suggested that socio-economic improvement should go hand in hand with population programmes.

He attributed the decline in fertility to the late start of marriage life by couples, adding " the median age at first marriage has increased slightly from 18.1 in 1988 to 18.7 in 1998".

Professor Kwadwo Asenso-Okyere, Vice Chancellor, UG, in his opening remarks said puberty rites had been a strategic medium for checking premarital sex and teenage pregnancy in many communities in Ghana.

"In the traditional community, these rites used to be a source of informal education for the adolescent to help her lead a meaningful adult life", he said adding that unfortunately, modern trends were making Ghanaians to abandon this rite.

He expressed regret that though Ghana had also had an active family planning services over the years with the launching of the Population Policy in 1969, the prevalence of contraceptive use was still low especially among the rural people and the uneducated.

"It is even a paradox to consider that with the low prevalence of contraceptive use as low as 15 per cent, it is possible to bring the fertility rate down from six to 4.5 per woman in a time frame of 10 years.

He urged men to consider going for vasectomy.

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