The Impact of Socio-Demographic and Religious Factors upon Sexual Behavior among Ugandan University Students.

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Abstract

INTRODUCTION:
More knowledge is needed about structural factors in society that affect risky sexual behaviors. Educational institutions such as universities provide an opportune arena for interventions among young people. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between sociodemographic and religious factors and their impact on sexual behavior among university students in Uganda.

METHODS:
In 2005, 980 university students (response rate 80%) were assessed by a self-administered questionnaire. Validated instruments were used to assess socio-demographic and religious factors and sexual behavior. Logistic regression analyses were applied.

RESULTS:
Our findings indicated that 37% of the male and 49% of the female students had not previously had sex. Of those with sexual experience, 46% of the males and 23% of the females had had three or more sexual partners, and 32% of the males and 38% of the females did not consistently use condoms. For those who rated religion as less important in their family, the probability of early sexual activity and having had a high number of lifetime partners increased by a statistically significant amount (OR = 1.7; 95% CI: 1.2-2.4 and OR = 1.6; 95% CI: 1.1-2.3, respectively). However, the role of religion seemed to have no impact on condom use. Being of Protestant faith interacted with gender: among those who had debuted sexually, Protestant female students were more likely to have had three or more lifetime partners; the opposite was true for Protestant male students.

CONCLUSION:
Religion emerged as an important determinant of sexual behavior among Ugandan university students. Our findings correlate with the increasing number of conservative religious injunctions against premarital sex directed at young people in many countries with a high burden. of HIV/AIDS. Such influence of religion must be taken into account in order to gain a deeper understanding of the forces that shape sexual behavior in Uganda.

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  • Environmental Health and Occupational Health
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere23670
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume6
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

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