Beyond Their HIV Status: the Occurrence of Multiple Health Risk Behavior Among Adolescents from a Rural Setting of Sub-Saharan Africa

Ssewanyana D, Newton CR, van Baar A, Hassan AS, Stein A, Taylor HG, Van De Vijver F, Scerif G, Abubakar A
Int J Behav Med. 2020;27

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BACKGROUND: Health risk behaviors during adolescence may cluster into patterns that might be predicted by specific factors, among which HIV may have an important role. METHOD: In a cross-sectional study conducted between 2017 and 2018, clustering of HRB and its associated factors was investigated in rural Kenya among 588 adolescents (36% perinatally HIV infected; 28% perinatally HIV exposed but uninfected; and 36% HIV unexposed/uninfected). Latent class analysis of 22 behaviors followed by multinomial logistic regression were conducted. Four risk behavior classes were identified. RESULTS: No significant differences were found in behavioral class membership across the three HIV groups (p = 0.366). The risk of membership to the higher risk behavioral classes relative to class 1 (the substance and drug abstinent low risk takers) increased with older adolescent age (p = 0.047), increased among adolescent who experienced mental distress (p < 0.001), and those who felt unsafe in their neighborhood (p < 0.002). Better working memory (p = 0.0037) was found to be protective. CONCLUSION: The results highlight a need to include screening and interventions for internalizing mental health problems and deficits in executive functioning, as well as steps to involve family members and communities to address psychosocial risk factors in adolescents in Kenya.