Multiple sexual partners: perceptions of young men in Uganda

Anil Joshi (Intercalated BSc in International Health, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK)

Journal of Health Organization and Management

ISSN: 1477-7266

Publication date: 7 September 2010



This study seeks to explore the perceptions of young men in Uganda regarding their sexual behaviour, which is normally understood as “high risk” in terms of HIV/AIDS. Specifically, the paper aims to look at the practice of engaging with multiple sexual partners (MSP).


Six 15‐19 year old school‐going young men in rural Uganda played an attribute‐ranking game, wrote personal stories and acted in small dramas as part of the data collection.


The participants of the study spoke about love and sex being important in a relationship, which is why they engaged in MSP, to maximise their experience of both. MSP also allowed the young men to gain pleasure, experience and control: three necessary and sought‐after attributes inherent in their notion of masculinity. The features that challenged these three factors (i.e. money, manipulative girls, parental control), which threatened their ideals of masculinity, were identified by participants as the primary risks of MSP, rather than health threats.


A more open‐minded and positive emphasis is needed regarding the use of condoms, where pleasure and issues of “manliness” are incorporated. By understanding the experiential views of young men, HIV/AIDS prevention programmes can be adapted accordingly to better reflect their lived realities.



Joshi, A. (2010), "Multiple sexual partners: perceptions of young men in Uganda", Journal of Health Organization and Management, Vol. 24 No. 5, pp. 520-527.

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