Characteristics of Sexual Behavior in Spanish Adolescents

Article excerpt

The aim of this study is to describe some characteristics of the sexual behavior of adolescents in Spain and to compare these characteristics according to gender, using a cross-sectional survey. Participants were 1.279 male and female adolescents who reported having had sexual intercourse. A questionnaire about sexual behavior was applied at their high schools and during school hours. Data were collected between 2006 and 2007. Mean age at the onset of sexual intercourse was 14.8 years in males and 15.0 years in females. Males and females were different according to the type of partner at the last sexual intercourse: 63.0% of males had a steady partner compared to 90.5% of females (p<0.01). The mean number of sexual partners during the last 12 months was higher in males than in females (M = 2.1 and M = 1.5 partners, for males and females, respectively, p<0.01). 50.0% of males had sexual intercourse under the effects of drugs versus 39.3% of females (p<0.01). STD and HIV prevention programs should be designed considering the differences according to adolescents' sex.

Keywords: adolescents, sexual behavior, Spain, HIV/AIDS.

El objetivo de este estudio es describir algunas características de la conducta sexual de los adolescentes en España y comparar dichas características en función del sexo.

Se trata de un estudio transversal descriptivo de poblaciones mediante encuestas con muestras probabilísticas. Participaron 1.279 adolescentes de ambos sexos que informaron haber mantenido contactos sexuales coitales. Se les aplicó un cuestionario sobre conducta sexual en sus centros de enseñanza. La recogida de datos tuvo lugar entre los años 2006 y 2007. La media de edad de inicio de las relaciones sexuales coitales era de 14.8 años en mujeres y de 15.0 años en varones. Los varones y las mujeres diferían en cuanto al tipo de pareja con la que mantuvieron la última relación sexual completa: el 63.0% de los varones tuvo una pareja fija comparado con el 90.5% de las chicas (p< 0.01). La media de parejas sexuales durante el último año era superior en los varones (M= 2.1 parejas) que en las mujeres (M= 1.5 parejas) (p<0.01). El 50.0% de los varones mantuvo relaciones sexuales bajo el efecto de drogas frente al 39.3% de las mujeres (p< 0.01). Los programas de prevención de las ETS y el VIH deben diseñarse considerando las diferencias existentes en función del sexo de los adolescentes.

Palabras clave: adolescentes, conducta sexual, España, VIH/sida.

According to The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS, 2007), approximately 33.2 million people are infected by HIV, and during the year 2007, 2.5 million of new infections were produced. In 2003, Spain occupied the first place in prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS in Western Europe (Bermúdez & Teva-Álvarez, 2003). In Spain, heterosexual relations are the second path of HIV transmission. Specifically, 24% of males and 51% of females diagnosed with AIDS in 2007 were infected with HIV through heterosexual intercourse (Centro Nacional de Epidemiología, 2007). There is currently no cure for AIDS, so efforts must be aimed at prevention. However, despite the increase in the resources dedicated to AIDS, there are still deficiencies to overcome. Prevention programs are not reaching one of the collectives facing the highest risk: youth (UNAIDS, 2006a). Youth is the key point of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, both in terms of new infections and because it is the main change agent of its progress (Monasch & Mahy, 2006). Therefore, it is of utmost importance to know the sexual behavior of this group in order to have an impact on the sphere of prevention.

Adolescence is a stage in life in which sexual behaviors are developing and becoming established (Bayley, 2003). In fact, adolescents make up a sexually active group that does not use the condom in all their coital sexual contacts (East, Jackson, O'Brien, & Peters, 2007; Mesa Gallardo, Barella Balboa, & Cobeña Manzorro, 2004). …