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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Study of knowledge, perception and attitude of adolescent girls towards STIs/HIV, safer sex and sex education: (A cross sectional survey of urban adolescent school girls in South Delhi, India)

Alexandra McManus* and Lipi Dhar

Author Affiliations

Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Western Australian Centre for Health Promotion Research, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia

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BMC Women's Health 2008, 8:12  doi:10.1186/1472-6874-8-12

Published: 23 July 2008

Abstract

Background

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI's), including HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) mainly affects sexually active young people. Young adults aged 15–29 years, account for 32% of AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) cases reported in India and the number of young women living with HIV/AIDS is twice that of young men. The aim of the study was to evaluate adolescent school girls' knowledge, perceptions and attitudes towards STIs/HIV and safer sex practice and sex education and to explore their current sexual behaviour in India.

Methods

A cross sectional study was carried out in 2007 in South Delhi, India to investigate the perception, knowledge and attitude of adolescent urban schoolgirls towards sexually transmitted Infections (STIs), HIV/AIDS, safer sex practice and sex education. the self-administered questionnaire was completed by 251 female students from two senior secondary schools.

Results

More than one third of students in this study had no accurate understanding about the signs and symptoms of STIs other than HIV/AIDS. About 30% of respondents considered HIV/AIDS could be cured, 49% felt that condoms should not be available to youth, 41% were confused about whether the contraceptive pill could protect against HIV infection and 32% thought it should only be taken by married women.

Conclusion

Though controversial, there is an immense need to implement gender-based sex education regarding STIs, safe sex options and contraceptives in schools in India