Confronting the Myth of "Sugar Daddies": Recent Findings Linking Age Differences, Economic Transaction, and Risky Behavior in Sexual Relations in Urban Kenya

Nancy Luke, University of Pennsylvania

Anecdotal evidence asserts that "sugar daddy" relationships between adolescent girls and older men are widespread in sub-Saharan Africa and fuel the spread of HIV/AIDS. There is limited empirical evidence, however, on age differences and economic exchange between partners, and more importantly, on the link between these asymmetries and sexual behavior. The Kisumu Survey of Urban Life investigates the prevalence and riskiness of the sugar daddy myth. Preliminary results suggest that sugar daddies are associated with risky behaviors: In partnerships where the age difference between partners is 10 or more years, condom use is less than 30%, compared with almost 60% in partnerships with age differences less than 10 years. Results show that transactional sexual relations are common (over 66% of partnerships), where an expanded definition of exchange includes economic assistance not directly linked to sexual encounters. Examination of the value and type of assistance related to condom use is included.

Presented in Session 2: HIV/AIDS Sexual Risk Behavior in Sub-Saharan Africa