Social connectivity and HIV risk behavior. Mobile phones and sexuality in Yaoundé youth culture

Start - End 
2011 - 2014 (completed)



This study is about changing culture. It deals with the acquisition of a mobile phone by young people in Yaoundé (Cameroon), its level of usage or of social connectivity, and the role it might have in HIV transmission. I examine how the use of a mobile phone impacts courtship, and how it creates and facilitates not only flirtatious behavior, but also unwanted sexual solicitations. Data results prove that young people embark on social connectivity to attain three social goals, (1) to increase longer-term life chances, (2) to increase means to gain material support and (3) to increase means to maintain self-status in the eyes of peers. They use mobile phones to create social ties that might result in sexual relations where barriers to condom use are involved, and as such it might lead to unsafe sexual encounters. Due to the economic and socio-cultural factors that obstruct the communication for safer sex between young people and their sexual partners – especially sugar daddies/mummies or mbomas – the power to enforce condom use is rarely equal. Data results prove that in Yaoundé, young people’s risky sexual practices are exacerbated by the mboma syndrome. Through a cross-cultural conceptual approach, I compare sexual risk behaviors related to the use of mobile phone among young people of Yaoundé with those of Ghent (Belgium), enabling me to assess distinctive sexual values that exist in different cultural backgrounds.



Phd Student(s)