Consuming sex: the association between modern goods, lifestyles and sexual behaviour among youth in Madagascar

Kirsten Stoebenau, Rama Nair, Valerie Rambeloson, Paul Rakotoarison, Violette Razafintsalama, Ronald Labonte

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    23 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Ethnographic evidence suggests that transactional sex is sometimes motivated by youth's interest in the consumption of modern goods as much as it is in basic survival. There are very few quantitative studies that examine the association between young people's interests in the consumption of modern goods and their sexual behaviour. We examined this association in two regions and four residence zones of Madagascar: urban, peri-urban and rural Antananarivo, and urban Antsiranana. We expected risky sexual behaviour would be associated with interests in consuming modern goods or lifestyles; urban residence; and socio-cultural characteristics.Methods: We administered a population-based survey to 2, 255 youth ages 15-24 in all four residence zones. Focus group discussions guided the survey instrument which assessed socio-demographic and economic characteristics, consumption of modern goods, preferred activities and sexual behaviour. Our outcomes measures included: multiple sexual partners in the last year (for men and women); and ever practicing transactional sex (for women).Results: Overall, 7.3% of women and 30.7% of men reported having had multiple partners in the last year; and 5.9% of women reported ever practicing transactional sex. Bivariate results suggested that for both men and women having multiple partners was associated with perceptions concerning the importance of fashion and a series of activities associated with modern lifestyles. A subset of lifestyle characteristics remained significant in multivariate models. For transactional sex bivariate results suggested perceptions around fashion, nightclub attendance, and getting to know a foreigner were key determinants; and all remained significant in multivariate analysis. We found peri-urban residence more associated with transactional sex than urban residence; and ethnic origin was the strongest predictor of both outcomes for women.Conclusions: While we found indication of an association between sexual behaviour and interest in modern goods, or modern lifestyles, such processes did not single-handedly explain risky sexual behaviour among youth; these behaviours were also shaped by culture and conditions of economic uncertainty. These determinants must all be accounted for when developing interventions to reduce risky transactional sex and vulnerability to HIV.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number13
    Number of pages19
    JournalGlobalization and Health
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2013


    • Globalization
    • HIV risk
    • HIV vulnerability
    • Madagascar
    • Modernity
    • Sexual behaviour
    • Transactional sex


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