Author(s): Liu A, Kilmarx P, Jenkins RA, Manopaiboon C, Mock PA,
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Abstract CONTEXT: Thailand has undergone dramatic social changes in the last two decades, yet little is known about factors related to sexual initiation among adolescents. METHODS: A survey using the audio computer-assisted self-interviewing method was conducted to assess social and demographic characteristics, substance use, sexual behavior, and knowledge of HIV and STIs among 1,725 vocational school students aged 15-21 living in northern Thailand. Gender differences for these factors were evaluated using chi-square and Mann-Whitney U tests. Multivariate survival analysis using Cox proportional hazards models assessed associations between these variables and sexual initiation for each gender. RESULTS: Males initiated sexual intercourse at an earlier age than females (median ages of 17 and 18, respectively). At any given age, sexual initiation was associated with having a nonagricultural background and using alcohol or methamphetamine (adjusted rate ratios, 1.3-2.9). For males, initiation was also associated with having parents who did not live together, having a friend as a confidant, tobacco use, high perceived risk for HIV and high STI knowledge (1.3-1.7). For females, other factors associated with earlier initiation were younger age at interview, living away from family, lacking a family member as a confidant, high perceived risk for STIs and ever having smoked marijuana (1.3-2.4). CONCLUSIONS: Interventions to ameliorate the adverse consequences of early sexual initiation need to address social influences such as parents and peer groups. Programs should identify and target high-risk subgroups, such as those who are sexually experienced at an early age and those engaged in patterns of generalized risk-taking.
This article was published in Int Fam Plan Perspect
and referenced in Arts and Social Sciences Journal