Sexual networking in Freetown against the background of the AIDS epidemic
- O. Adegbola, O. Babatola, J. Oni.
- Health Transition Review 5 (Supplement):81-112.
This paper focuses on the generational debate on sexual behaviour within the context of vulnerability to HIV infection. It operationalizes the generation concept against Nigeria’s historical background and seeks variations in the patterns of selected sexual variables between and among generational groups. It appears that divergency in sexual behaviour along generational lines is not as strong as some scholars have suggested. Since the appearance of the AIDS epidemic and its vector, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, efforts have been directed towards its containment. The initial research efforts were directed at finding medical solutions. Efforts became diversified later, when it was clear that a meaningful solution would not come exclusively from medicine. Thus, the need became apparent for a complementary and simultaneous effort towards a solution which explores the social elements in sexual behaviour. Social scientists and anthropologists have responded strongly to this challenge. Among the numerous contributions by the social scientists, the theme of sexual networking has featured prominently. The primary aim of analysis has been to display the extant patterns of sexual behaviour and the extent to which they threaten the general sexual health of the communities studied. It was expected that the availability of such data would encourage the relevant agencies to design appropriate programs to persuade the larger society to embrace healthier sexual practice. Side by side with the social scientists, there were other interest groups equally concerned with the problem of AIDS. To this group the problem of AIDS is generational.1 It only reflects the incidence of anomalous2 sexual behaviour of the younger-generation adults against the more conservative sexual practice and values of older generations. Consequently, the question of inter-generational contradiction has since emerged both as formal and informal debate themes in sexual networking. Until now, much of the debate relied on anthropological evidence. Such contributions have tried to argue that significant changes have occurred in sexual orientation of African societies. While the temporal dimensions of the contributors have varied, the import of the debate as an inter-generational issue cannot be ignored. However, it has had minimal input from social surveys from which 1 A variant of this debate can be inferred from the Caldwell-Le Blanc controversy; although the debate focuses essentially on the contemporary African sexual system, the import of the generational argument