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MARYP 2012 Report





The 2007 Liberian Demographic and health Survey (LDHS) (3) reported that the nationwide HIV prevalence nationwide was 1.5% (95% CI 1.3%-1.8%). The HIV prevalence was found to be higher in urban areas than rural areas, and higher among females than males. The rates of infection were three times higher among adolescent females (ages 15-19) compared males (1.3% vs. 0.4%) and almost three times higher among young females (ages 19-24) compared to young males (2.0% vs. 0.7%)(1). Given that more than half of the population in Liberia is younger, preventing HIV infection among them is critical. The data on the factors that enhance young people’s risk of getting HIV are scarce and the available evidence suggests that a milieu of structural and individual risk factors have the potential to increase youth’s vulnerability to HIV.

These structural drivers include poor access to education(2), high rates of gender-based violence (GBV)(1, 2), and limitations of the current health system(3, 4). Individual behaviors include low levels of condom use(1) and HIV testing(1, 2, 5), and the exchange of sex for money, goods, or other items(6-9).

The United Nations Child Fund (UNICEF) plays a critical role in preventing HIV infection among adolescents and young people world-wide. Several of their efforts have focused on young people who are vulnerable and at risk to HIV infection including sex workers, men who have sex with men (MSM), victims of rape, and young people who inject drugs (10). Recently, UNICEF has sought to increase the capacity of local HIV programs to meet the needs of most at-risk adolescents (MARYP) in Ukraine(11)and Tanzania(12) through descriptive studies on adolescents most at risk for HIV in these countries.

In 2010, UNICEF formed a stakeholder working group with the goal of meeting the HIV prevention needs of young people in three counties in Liberia: Montserrado, Grand Gedeh, and Grand Bassa. The stakeholder working group included individuals from several international and domestic agencies (See Appendix A for a complete list of the stakeholders). FHI 360 was tasked by the UNICEF and the stakeholder working group to work with Liberia Institute of Statistics & Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) to conduct a descriptive study of most-at-risk adolescents and young people (MARYP), ages 14 -24, in the same three counties. The goal of the study was to describe the HIV risk behaviors and factors that contribute to MARYP’s vulnerability to HIV.


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