Research report: "Using what you have to get what you want": Vulnerability to HIV and prevention needs of female post‐secondary students engaged in transactional sex in Kumasi, Ghana
Baffuor Opoku, Kofi
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This report presents findings from a qualitative study examining vulnerability to HIV of female post‐secondary students engaged in transactional sex in Kumasi, Ghana and their prevention needs. The study was conducted by Boston University’s Center for Global and Health and Development (CGHD) and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) as part of Project SEARCH funded by the United States Agency for International Development Ghana. Participants were recruited from five post‐secondary institutions in the greater Kumasi area. Our objective is to provide academic institutions, the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), the National AIDS Control Program, donors, and other stakeholders with rich data to inform research and programmatic efforts in Kumasi specifically, as well as academic institutions in general. We set out to document what forms of transactional sex female students are engaging in, who their partners are, and what motivates them to participate. We asked students about the individual and structural vulnerabilities for HIV reported by female post‐secondary students involved in transactional sex and what their prevention needs are. We also interviewed a small sample of faculty, residence hall matrons, and hotel staff to get their perspective on the behavior of female students practicing transactional sex that might put them at risk for HIV. The findings of this study can be used as well to inform the design of future studies of young women engaging in transactional sex in Ghana. With such limited understanding of HIV transmission among young female post‐secondary students engaged in transactional sex, research is needed to determine how this group contributes to the overall HIV epidemic. The Ghana AIDS Commission has recognized the need for further research among communities engaged in less well‐defined risky sex practices in the National Strategic Plan for Most‐at – Risk Populations (MARP) 2011‐2015.4 This study attempts to fill in gaps in the research regarding transactional sex, taking into account the complexities and nuances of the practice, in addition to examining the needs of female students for targeted HIV prevention programs.
This study was implemented by Boston University in collaboration with the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology with support from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the U.S. Agency for International Development under Project SEARCH Task Order No. GHH‐I‐00‐07‐00023‐00, beginning August 27, 2010. The content and views expressed here are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or policy of USAID or the U.S. Government.