ANALYSIS OF SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH RISK PREFERENCES OF ZIMBABWE UNIVERSITY STUDENTS
Although the Zimbabwean government launched an Adolescent and Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health policy in 2010, HIV prevalence and incidence among youth remains amongst the highest in sub-Saharan Africa. Zimbabwean Youths in tertiary education institutions exhibit high-risk sexual behaviours. The study aimed to estimate the risk preference parameters of youths in a tertiary education setting to understand their risky behaviour better using prospect theory. It involved 250 students completing a socioeconomic questionnaire and making a choice from over three series of pairwise lottery questions framed around sexual and reproductive health prevention interventions. The study used bivariate techniques to examine differences in risk-taking behaviour. Ordinary least squares and interval regression techniques determined the socioeconomic determinants of the risk behaviour function. The study established an average risk aversion parameter of 0.7 and a probability weighting parameter of 0.8. The probability weighting parameter implies that the participants were more focused on the outcomes with less concern for their likelihood. The study estimated the loss aversion parameter at 2.26, which indicates the need to reduce loss-framed messages in favour of positively framed awareness campaigns. Bivariate and multivariate regression analyses showed that income, prior sexual and reproductive health knowledge and alcoholism were associated with risk and loss aversion. We recommend positive framing of youth sexual and reproductive health awareness campaigns. We also recommend youth economic emancipation to increase economic prospects which in turn improves reference points which changes the viewing of health interventions and outcomes from the loss domain to gain domain.
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