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Open Access Research article

Sex knowledge, attitudes, and high-risk sexual behaviors among unmarried youth in Hong Kong

Paul SF Yip12*, Huiping Zhang3, Tai-Hing Lam4, Kwok Fai Lam5, Antoinette Marie Lee6, John Chan7 and Susan Fan7

  • * Corresponding author: Paul SF Yip sfpyip@hku.hk

  • † Equal contributors

Author affiliations

1 Department of Social Work and Social Administration, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong

2 Center for Suicide Research and Prevention, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong

3 Department of Social Work, The School of Sociology and Population Studies, Renmin University of China, Beijing, P.R. China

4 Department of Community Medicine, School of Public Health, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong

5 Department of Statistics & Actuarial Science, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong

6 Department of Psychiatry, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong

7 Family Planning Association of Hong Kong, Wan Chai, Hong Kong

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Citation and License

BMC Public Health 2013, 13:691  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-691

Published: 29 July 2013

Abstract

Background

Little is known about sex knowledge, attitudes, and high-risk sexual behaviors among unmarried youth in Hong Kong. It is of public health importance to investigate this topic to inform sex education, policymaking, and prevention and intervention programs.

Methods

Based on the Youth Sexuality Survey conducted by Hong Kong Family Planning Association (FPAHK) in 2011, this study explored the characteristics of sexual knowledge, attitudes, and high-risk sexual behaviors among 1,126 unmarried youth aged 18 to 27 years. Multiple logistic regressions were performed to examine factors associated with unmarried youth’s premarital sex, casual relationships, multiple sex partners, and premarital pregnancy.

Results

Unmarried youth in Hong Kong had adequate sex knowledge, but contraceptive knowledge was deficient. The majority of unmarried youth (63.8%) held liberal attitudes toward premarital sex and about half held liberal attitudes toward any form of sexual activity and premarital pregnancy. Around 60% held conservative attitudes toward causal sex relationships and multiple sex partners. Males tended to hold more liberal attitudes toward high-risk sex behaviors than female youth. Approximately 41.5% of unmarried youth reported having engaged in premarital sex, whereas less than 10% engaged in high-risk sexual behaviors. Males also reported higher amounts of premarital sex, casual sex relationships, and multiple sex partners. Females reported higher levels of sexual coercion. Logistic regressions indicated that being older, coming from a divorced family, out of school status and liberal attitudes toward risky sex behavior were more likely to engage in premarital sex or high-risk sex behaviors, and being female, being better educated and being immigrants were less likely to engage in premarital sex. However, being immigrants was more likely to engage in casual relationship and to have multiple partners.

Conclusions

Premarital sex is becoming more prevalent among unmarried youth in Hong Kong, and a small proportion of young adults are engaging in high-risk sexual behaviors. Sex education and HIV prevention programs should equip them with adequate knowledge on contraception and condom use. Intervention programs can start with their attitudes toward sex.