CCP Research Measures Girls’ Vulnerability to HIV

A Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs (CCP) research study has validated two indices of girls’ vulnerability to HIV. The findings will be presented at the 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. today.

Drs. Carol Underwood and Hilary Schwandt from CCP found that the vulnerable girls’ index (VGI) is positively associated with a willingness to have sex with a partner who refuses to use a condom. In addition, a high supportive community index (SCI) is positively associated with the perception of strong community support.

The VGI combines major risk factors for HIV into one single, applicable measure for the first time. The SCI can be used to assess structural factors that affect girls’ vulnerability to HIV such as community support.

Despite extensive literature on girls’ vulnerability to HIV, few vulnerability indicators have been measured and applied to date.

In order to test these two indices, the authors measured and applied the VGI and SCI to a random sample of girls in Botswana, Malawi and Mozambique.

The study’s findings make an important and valuable contribution to existing HIV discourse by validating several indices that were developed to measure both girls’ vulnerability to HIV at baseline and the effects of interventions aimed at reducing girls’ vulnerability to HIV.

This research was conducted as part of the PEPFAR-funded Gender Initiative on Girls’ Vulnerability to HIV (Go Girls! Initiative) that ran for 2007-2010.

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