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  • Farideh Khalajabadi Farahani (a1), Mohammad Mahdi Akhondi (a2), Mehdi Shirzad (a2) and Ali Azin (a2)

Recent evidence indicates a rising trend in premarital sexual activity among young people in Iran. However, little is known about the extent to which young people’s sexual behaviours expose them to HIV and STI risks. This study aimed to assess HIV/STI-related sexual risk-taking behaviours (correlates and determinants) and HIV/STI risk perception among male university students in Tehran. A representative sample of male university students (N=1322) studying in government and private Tehran universities completed an anonymous questionnaire survey in 2013–14. Respondents were selected using two-stage stratified cluster sampling. About 35% of respondents had ever had premarital sex (n=462). The majority (about 85%) of the sexually experienced students reported having multiple sexual partners in their lifetime. More than half (54%) reported inconsistent condom use over the previous month. Despite this exposure to HIV/STI risk, the respondents had a very low level of HIV/STI risk perception. Only 6.5% were highly concerned about contracting HIV over the previous year, and an even lower percentage (3.4%) were concerned about contracting STIs in the near future. Early sexual debut (<18 years), studying in a private university, ever watching pornography and work experience were found to be significant predictors of having multiple sexual partners. Younger age at sexual debut, having one lifetime sexual partner and poor HIV knowledge were significant predictors of inconsistent condom use over the preceding month. HIV prevention programmes among Iranian youth need to focus on the postponement of first sex and enhancement of HIV/STI knowledge in the light of increasing access of young people to pornography.

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Journal of Biosocial Science
  • ISSN: 0021-9320
  • EISSN: 1469-7599
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