Knowledge, beliefs, risk behaviors, and social skills for HIV/STD prevention in junior college students (grades 11-12) in Bombay, India

Rabia Mathai, The University of Texas School of Public Health


1230 year 11 and 12 college students, modal age 16 and 17, in three colleges in Bombay, India, were studied on sexual behaviors or risk of sexual behaviors, beliefs about sex, HIV/STD knowledge, perceived norms regarding sexual behaviors, and the relationships between social skills/anxieties in HIV/STD prevention and actual and anticipated sexual behaviors. A quantitative questionnaire examining HIV/STD risk behaviors, knowledge, attitudes and beliefs, and the AIDS Social Assertiveness Scale (ASAS) were administered to these 1230 college students. Data indicated that 8% of males and 1% of females had had sexual experience, but over one third were not sure at all of being able to abstain from sexual activity with either steady or casual partners. Perceived norms were slanted toward sexual abstinence for the majority of the sample. Knowledge of protective effects of condoms was high, although half of those who had had sex did not use condoms. Logistic regression showed knowledge was higher among males, those who believed it was OK to have sex with a steady partner and that they should not wait until they were older, those who believed that condoms should be used even if the partner is known, and those who believed it was acceptable to have multiple partners. Gender differences in sexual activity and beliefs about sexual activity showed males were less likely to believe in abstaining from sexual activity. The 5 scales of the ASAS were scored and compared on ANOVA on: those who had had sexual experience (HS), those who anticipated being unable to refuse sex (AS), and those who did not anticipate problems in refusing sex (DS). Those in the AS group had greater anxieties about refusing sexual or other risk behaviors than HS and DS groups. There were greater anxieties about dealing with condoms in the AS and DS groups compared with the HS group. Confiding sexual or HIV/STD-related problems to significant others was more anxiety-provoking for the AS group compared with the HS group, and the AS group were more anxious about interactions with people with HIV. Factor analysis produced the same 5 factors as those found in previous studies. Of these, condom interactions and confiding in significant others were most anxiety provoking, and condom interactions most variable based on demographic and attitudinal factors. This age group is appropriate for HIV/STD reduction education given the low rate of sexual activity but despite knowledge of the importance of condom use, social skills to apply this knowledge are lacking. Social skills training in sexual negotiations, condom negotiations, and confiding HIV/STD-related concerns to significant others should reduce the risks of Indian college students having unwanted or unprotected sex.

Subject Area

Public health

Recommended Citation

Mathai, Rabia, "Knowledge, beliefs, risk behaviors, and social skills for HIV/STD prevention in junior college students (grades 11-12) in Bombay, India" (1996). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9700045.