Child marriage in the context of the HIV epidemic


As the HIV epidemic has matured, in many settings it has become a disease of young women. In sub- Saharan Africa, 75 percent of the 6.2 million young people aged 15–24 living with HIV are female (UNAIDS 2004). At the same time, child marriage,1 though on the decline, per- sists. In parts of Africa, large numbers of girls are at risk of child marriage, and many millions of young wives were mar- ried as children. To better understand these twin phenomena—child mar- riage and the HIV epidemic—the Population Council adopted a multi-level approach. One level of investigation examines the effect of child marriage on the epidemic, including on rates of HIV infection among women and girls. A second level of inves- tigation seeks to mitigate the significant risks to girls’ well- being and safety that arise from child marriage, and to under- stand the distinctive risks it brings within the context of the HIV epidemic.

Transitions to adulthood, Brief no. 11 Updated September 2007.

Judith Bruce



Contact Details

  Population Council One Dag Hammarskjold Plaza New York, New York 10017 USA;

Year Of Publication