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.