Age-disparate relationships and implications for STI transmission among young adults in Cape Town, South Africa
Objectives To estimate the prevalence of age-disparate (AD) relationships among young black and coloured adults in Cape Town (South Africa) and determine socio-demographic predictors and individual and relationship characteristics of women in these relationships. Methods A secondary analysis of the Cape Area Panel Study (N = 1960) data was conducted. Descriptive statistics were used to quantify the age-mixing pattern and logistic regression was used to identify significant socio-demographic and behavioural correlates of AD relationships. Results Prevalence of AD relationships was high in both black (36%) and coloured (28%) women. The average age difference between male respondents and their partners increased with age. Young, black women who spent fewer nights under the same roof in one week, had a deceased parent, and were not currently attending classes were more likely to be in an AD relationship. Reports of sexually-transmitted infection (STI) symptoms in the last month and unprotected sex were more common among women in AD relationships. Conclusions AD relationships are common among young women in Cape Town. Home and family stability is preventative of young women engaging in AD relationships. Therefore, holistic, societal interventions may reduce AD relationships, which are a risk factor for STIs. © 2012 The European Society of Contraception and Reproductive Health.