Journal of
AIDS and HIV Research

  • Abbreviation: J. AIDS HIV Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2359
  • DOI: 10.5897/JAHR
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 283

Full Length Research Paper

Risky sexual behavior and identity construction among adolescents in Ethiopia

Belay Tefera
  • Belay Tefera
  • School of Psychology, Addis Ababa University, Sidst Kilo Campus, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
  • Google Scholar
Missaye Mulatie
  • Missaye Mulatie
  • Department of Psychology, Gondar University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Accepted: 14 February 2014
  •  Published: 31 March 2014


Adolescents in Ethiopia are found to engage in a host of risky behaviors that lead to sexual and reproductive health problems including Human Immune Deficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS), unplanned pregnancy, and abortion; just to mention but a few. Quite a number of research investigations have been conducted to document on the factors that lead youth to these risky behaviors. However, these investigations focused to a greater extent on the external factors orchestrating risky ventures. There is a paucity of interest to examine the extent to which the internal, developmentally salient, and functionally overwhelming dimension of adolescent development, called “personal identity construction”, structure risky orientations in young persons. This research was attempted to fill in this gap. It attempts to investigate if identity achievement can play the protective role against risky sexual behaviors among young people. Three hundred and two adolescent students were selected from three schools in North Gondar Administrative Zone. The results revealed that only some students had achieved their identity and yet a greater majority had experience of sexual intercourse at least once in their life.  However, as compared to identity achievers, non-achievers were significantly more engaged in sexual intercourse, had sex with multiple partners including sex with commercial sex workers, engaged in casual sex, and failed to use birth control and condom in different sexual encounters. Therefore, significant proportion of identity non-achievers were more exposed to these risky behaviors than identity-achieved adolescents.

Key words: Risky, sexual behavior, identity construction, human immune deficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS), adolescents.