As some progress is being achieved in the fight against HIV/AIDS, several social and cultural factors continue to influence the outcome of that fight. One of the factors that has proven to be significant in increasing the risks of HIV-infection is cross-generational relationships — in which at least a 10-year age difference exists between partners.

In the "sugar daddy" phenomenon, as it is called, young women take older men as sexual partners. For the young women, this is a sign of prestige among their peers and a way for them to pay for luxuries (or sometimes for education) that they otherwise could not afford. In some cases, poor families even encourage young girls to enter into these relationships in the belief that they will improve the family's overall economic situation.

Older men, for their part, are attracted to younger women because it is a sign of status among an older man's friends to have one or more young girlfriends. Older men believe that younger women are virgins and therefore less likely to be infected and pass the infection to them.