Background: In Cameroon and Gabon, the most highly HIV prevalent West African countries, adolescents are sexually active before age of 15. The main complications of early and unsafe sexual intercourse are mentioned as unwanted pregnancy, many sexually transmitted infections, death, abnormal sexual behaviors, and long-lasting or even lifelong mental and physical health consequences. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine the predicting factors of early initiation of sex among 15-24 aged Cameroonian and Gabonese youth.
Methods: This study used nationally representative datasets from Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) of Cameroon (2011) and Gabon (2012). A total of 14,880 youth, of which 9511(63.91%) from Cameroon and 5369(36.08%) from Gabon were taken. SPSS version 22 was used to run a binary multivariate logistic regression.
Result: About 70% of Cameroonian and 80% of Gabonese youth had a history of sexual intercourse before the survey. Abstinence among youth was very low that 29.8% of Cameroonian and 44.2% of Gabonese youth were lost their virginity before their 15th birthday. Their first sex was very early, ranged from their 5th to 24th years old with a mean age of 10.69 ± 7.69 years in Cameroon and 12.36 ± 6.32 years in Gabon. Premarital sex was also very high among Cameroonian (51.5%) and Gabonese (78.4%) youth. Age at first marriage among youth was ranged from 8 to 24 years with the mean age of 16.67 ± 2.74 years in Cameroon and 17.33 ± 2.78 years in Gabon. First marriage before age 15 was high among Cameroonian (36.1%) and Gabonese (25.6%) youth. On multivariate analysis, age, place of residence, educational level, religion, marital status, wealth index, occupation, comprehensive knowledge and attitude of respondents were significantly associated with most of the sex before age 15, premarital sex and marriage before 15years. Comparing by gender, Cameroonian and Gabonese males were more likely to have higher premarital sex and sex before age 15. However, males of both countries were less likely to be married before age 15 than their female counterparts.
Conclusion: In this study, the initiation of sex among youth was found to be very early. So, reproductive health education to young adolescents as well as parents and school collaboration are suggested as a fundamental tool to prevent the early initiation of sex among youth.