Little is known about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Indian Ocean region, including Mauritius. National records suggest a prevalence of HIV in Mauritius of < 1% in the general population, which is one of the lowest prevalence rates in southern Africa. However, HIV-positive cases have been increasing recently in Mauritius. We conducted a cross-sectional survey in January 2003 to assess the prevalence of HIVrelated sexual behaviors and their correlates among young people aged 15–24 years in Mauritius.
We identified 1200 participants using two-stage cluster sampling. Demographic, social, sexual, and knowledge of HIV/AIDS data were obtained in face-to-face interviews using a structured questionnaire administered by trained interviewers. The prevalence of sexual behaviors was described in relation to gender, and the correlates of ever having had sex and nonuse of condom at last sex were analyzed using logistic regression.
In the target population, 30.9% of males and 9.7% of females reported a history of sexual intercourse. Of the currently sexually active participants, 50.6% of men and 71.2% of women did not use condoms at their last sexual encounter. Logistic regression revealed that work experience and marijuana use were significantly associated with men's sexual experience, whereas being out of school and drinking experience were significantly associated with women's sexual experience. For both men and women, being Christian and visiting nightclubs were associated with having ever had sexual intercourse (P < 0.05). In addition, not using a condom at the first sexual encounter and lack of exposure to a nongovernmental organization (NGO) dealing with HIV/AIDS were associated with the nonuse of condoms at the last sexual encounter (P < 0.05).
Young people in Mauritius are at risk of a future HIV epidemic because behaviors predisposing to HIV infection are prevalent among sexually experienced youth. A focused prevention program targeting young people should be reinforced as part of the National AIDS Control Program, taking into account the predictors of sexual behaviors identified here.