Risky sexual behaviours of high-school pupils in an era of HIV and AIDS
Design and Methods: A cross sectional study explored factors influencing the sexual behaviour of high schools pupils (mean age 15.4 years; SD=1.11). Structured self-reported questionnaires were completed by all Grade 10 pupils (n=805), at all the Wentworth, eThekwini, public high schools.
Results: Significant gender differences in sexual behaviour practices were reported. Males are more likely to engage in sexual activity than females (OR 4.92; P<0.001). More males (24.8%) initiated sex before 12 years with more females (30%) who initiated sex between 16 to 20 years of age (P< 0.001). Significantly more males preferred older partners than females (P = 0.002), more females were forced to have sex than males (P =0.009) and more males used alcohol at last sex than females (P = 0.04). Religious affiliation and parental supervision have a significant impact on sexual activity.
Conclusions: High school pupils are at high risk of HIV and AIDS yet continue to engage in risky sexual behaviours. Prevention efforts need to be aggressively up-scaled and redirected towards specific risky practices, including gender differences. Contextual factors such as religious norms and parental supervision require greater focus. Sexual risk behaviours reflect a broader society in crisis.
Serena Visvakanti Frank, Wentworth Hospital
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Date published: 2008-05-14
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