1 Department of Public Health, College of Public Health, Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, Dammam, Saudi Arabia
Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) is a major global cause of acute illness, long-term disability and death, with serious medical and psychological consequences. Knowledge and awareness about the transmission of sexual disease play an important role in the prevention of the disease. Very little is known about HIV and STI in adolescents and associated factors in Saudi Arabia.
The aim of this study was to examine the association between self-rated STI knowledge and HIV and STI knowledge test scores, as well as to investigate the association between adolescents’ HIV and STI knowledge and their demographic background and sexually related behaviors.
A multi-stage cross-sectional study was conducted using a self-administered questionnaire, recruiting 453 male adolescents (15 and 20 years) from private and public male high schools in Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia.
More than half (53.4%) of the adolescents reported their STI knowledge as excellent or good (42%). However, based on the total score scale of HIV and STI knowledge, 64.3% had a poor level of knowledge. The sexual information sources commonly cited were friends (70%) and internet (40.0%); and the least cited sources were fathers (16%) and mothers (15%). The logistic regression analysis revealed that adolescents’ father and mother education (>12 years) were positively associated with adolescent’s HIV and STI knowledge level (OR= 1.6, 95% CI: 1.1-2.4, p= 0.040) and (OR= 1.8, 95% CI: 1.2-2.8, p= 0.010). No significant association was found between adolescents’ HIV and STI knowledge and their sexual behaviors and attitudes.
Findings suggest that a high proportion of male adolescents have poor HIV and STI related knowledge. Poor knowledge and reliance on potentially unreliable informational sources coupled with an over-estimate perception of STI expertise suggests that improvements in STI and HIV education should be addressed. Additional research is needed to help identify factors (beyond knowledge) associated with sexual behavior and attitudes that may increase the risk for STIs and HIV among adolescents.
Keywords: Adolescents, Awareness, Health education, Saudi Arabia, Sexual health, STDs/STIs.
open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode. This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Correspondence: Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Public Health, College of Public Health, Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, Dammam, Saudi Arabia, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org