Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Public Health and BioMed Central.

Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Characteristics and determinants of sexual behavior among adolescents of migrant workers in Shangai (China)

Shenghui Li12, Hong Huang3*, Yong Cai2, Gang Xu2, Fengrong Huang2 and Xiaoming Shen14*

Author Affiliations

1 Shangai Xin Hua Hospital affiliated with Shangai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shangai, PR China

2 School of Public Health affiliated with Shangai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shangai, PR China

3 Shangai Municipal Health Bureau, Shangai, PR China

4 Key Laboratory of Children's Environmental Health, Shangai, PR China

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2009, 9:195  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-195

Published: 19 June 2009



China is facing a critical challenge of rapid and widespread human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) increase. Rural-to-urban migration plays a crucial role in shifting the HIV/sexual transmitted infection (STI) epidemic. The purpose of this study was to assess the prevalence of sexual behaviors and the correlates among the early adolescents of migrant workers in China.


A cross-sectional study was conducted in 10 junior high schools from April to June of 2008. A total of 2821 adolescents aged 14.06 ± 0.93 years (8.9% of migrant workers vs. 91.1% of general residents) participated in the survey. A self-administrated questionnaire was used to collect information on knowledge, attitude, and behaviors associated with increased risk for HIV/STI.


The percentage of adolescents who ever had sexual intercourse or had sexual intercourse in last three months was 7.2% and 4.3% in adolescents of migrant workers, respectively; in contrast, 4.5% and 1.8% in their peers of general residents, respectively. 47.3% adolescents of migrant workers and 34.3% of those adolescents of general residents reported no condom use in sexual intercourse during last three months. Multivariate logistic regression analyses found that migration was a independent risk factor for sexual intercourse in last three months in our sampled adolescents (odds ratio [OR] = 1.23, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.01–1.72). In adolescents of migrant workers, factors such as lower family income (OR: 2.22, CI: 1.09–3.05 for low level; OR:1.25, CI: 1.04–1.59 for medium level), younger age at first sexual intercourse (OR: 1.24, CI: 1.09–1.57), lower knowledge on HIV/AIDS (OR: 0.93, CI: 0.90–0.97), and fewer communication on HIV/AIDS related issues (OR: 0.79, CI: 0.90–0.97) were related to sexual intercourse in last three months.


Based on these results, we advocated that heightened concerns targeting the adolescents of migrant workers be particularly necessary, given their higher level of sexual experience, lower socioeconomic status, restricted reproductive health information, and vulnerability to HIV/STI.