Age at sexual debut among female youth in Nyanza Province, Kenya
The study examined factors that influence early sexual debut among female youth aged 15 - 24 years in Nyanza province using data from the Kenya Demographic and Health survey of 2008/9. This was a national representative survey that collected data on sexual activity from a sample of 8444 women in their reproductive ages 15 - 49 years. In this study age at sexual debut measured in completed years was the dependent variable while the independent variables were place of residence, level of education, wealth index, religion, marital status and exposure to radio and television. The study sample was 607 female youth aged 15 - 24 years drawn from a population of 1318 women aged 15 - 49 years in Nyanza province. The life table approach was used to estimate median age at sexual debut among the female youth by various background characteristics. Bivariate and multivariate analysis using Cox hazard regression was employed to determine risk factors associated with age at first sexual debut. The results from life table showed that the median age at sexual debut among female youth in Nyanza province was 15.3 years. Using Cox hazard regression, bivariate results showed that place of residence, level of education, wealth status, marital status and exposure to television were significantly associated with sexual debut among female youth in Nyanza Province. Rural residence was associated with acceleration of early sexual debut while secondary and above education, rich households, being married and exposure to television were associated with delay in sexual debut among the female youth in Nyanza province. Multivariate analysis results indicated that when all factors were controlled for, the effect of place of residence, level of education and marital status on early sexual debut among female youth were statistically significant. Contrary to the expectations were the findings that the never-married female youth were less likely to delay their sexual debut compared to the evermarried counterparts. The study recommends further research to establish why the married female youth delay their sexual debut compared to the never-married counterparts.