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The Sexual health of pupils in years 4 to 6 of primary schools in rural Tanzania

Todd, J., Changalucha, J., Ross, D.A., Mosha, F., Obasi, A.I.N., Plummer, M., Balira, R., Grosskurth, H., Mabey, D.C.W. and Hayes, R. (2003) The Sexual health of pupils in years 4 to 6 of primary schools in rural Tanzania. UNSPECIFIED, Feb (80). pp. 35-42.

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Abstract

Background/objectives: There is an urgent need for effective interventions to improve the sexual and
reproductive health of adolescents. Reliable data on the sexual health of adolescents are needed to guide
the development of such interventions. The aim was to describe the sexual health of pupils in years 4 to 6 of
121 rural primary schools in north western Tanzania, before the implementation of an innovative sexual
health intervention in 58 of the schools.
Methods: A cross sectional survey of primary school pupils in rural Tanzania was carried out. The study
population comprised pupils registered in years 4 to 6 of 121 primary schools in 20 rural communities in
1998. Basic demographic information was collected from all pupils seen. Those born before 1 January
1985 (aged approximately 14 years and over) were invited to participate in the survey, and asked about
their knowledge and attitudes towards sexual health issues, and their sexual experience. A urine specimen
was requested and tested for HIV, Chlamydia trachomatis (CT), Neisseria gonorrhoeae (NG) and, for
females, pregnancy.
Results: 9283 pupils born before 1 January 1985 were enrolled and provided demographic information
and a urine sample. Male pupils were significantly older than females (mean age 15.5 years v 14.8 years,
p,0.001), but all other demographic characteristics were similar between the sexes. 14 (0.2%) of the
enrolled pupils (four male and 10 female) were HIV positive, 83 (0.9%) were positive for CT, and 12
(0.1%) for NG. 32 female pupils (0.8%) were positive by pregnancy test. Sexual experience was reported
by one fifth of primary school girls, and by almost half of boys. Only 45/114 (39%) girls with biological
markers of sexual activity reported having had sex.
Conclusions: HIV, CT, NG, and pregnancy were present though at relatively low levels among pupils in
years 4 to 6 of primary school. A high proportion of pupils with a biological marker of sexual activity
denied ever having had sex. Alternative ways of collecting sensitive data about the sexual behaviour of
school pupils should be explored.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Sexual health, Primary Pupils, School children, Rural Tanzania
Subjects: Health Systems > Community Health
Sexual & Reproductive Health > Sexually transmitted infections
Divisions: Ifakara Health Institute > Biomedical
Depositing User: Mr Joseph Madata
Date Deposited: 27 Aug 2012 10:04
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2012 10:04
URI: http://ihi.eprints.org/id/eprint/513

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