Gender Differences in HIV-Related Sexual Behavior among College Students from Spain and Portugal

Article excerpt

Under the perspective of the Theory of Planned Behavior, the objective of this study was to know the gender differences in the variables involved in the use of effective preventive measures in sexual relations against HIV in a sample of university students from Spain and Portugal. Furthermore, it is examined whether these factors produce different predictions concerning the adoption of safe sexual behaviour for young man and women in each country. The sample consisted of 683 university students, 319 Portuguese (64% female and 36% male) from the University of Algarve and 364 Spanish students (51% female and 49% male) from the University of Huelva. Data were obtained by means of a questionnaire. The data revealed that there are gender differences which apply in both countries, highlighting that the young women have more positive attitudes, greater perceived behavioural control and intention of condom use than young men. However, they protect themselves less that their male counterparts: the percentage of females who say using condoms as a contraceptive method is less than the percentage of males, and especially with their steady partners. The results are discussed in relation to gender role norms, to have a steady partner or not, gender relations, the associated meaning to sexual relations for men and women and their implications for the design of sexual educational programmes for them.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS; gender differences; university students; preventive sexual behaviors.

Bajo el enfoque de la Teoría de la Conducta Planeada, el objetivo de este estudio fue analizar las diferencias de género en cuanto a las variables que están implicadas en el uso efectivo de medidas preventivas en las relaciones sexuales frente al VIH, en una muestra de estudiantes universitarios de España y Portugal. Además, se analizó si estas variables provocan diferencias en las predicciones relacionadas con la adopción de conductas sexuales seguras por chicos y chicas en cada país. La muestra estaba formada por 683 estudiantes universitarios, 319 portugueses (64% mujeres y 36% hombres) de la Universidade do Algarve y 364 estudiantes españoles (51% mujeres y 49% hombres) de la Universidad de Huelva. Los datos fueron recogidos a través de un cuestionario. Los datos revelaron que hay diferencias de género que se mantienen en ambos países, destacando que las chicas tienen actitudes más positivas, una mayor percepción de control del comportamiento y una mayor intención de uso del preservativo que los chicos. Sin embargo, las chicas se protegen menos que sus homólogos masculinos: el porcentaje de mujeres que dicen usar el preservativo como un método anticonceptivo es menor que el porcentaje de hombres, y especialmente con sus parejas estables. Los resultados se discuten en relación con el papel de las normas de género, con el hecho de tener pareja estable o no, las relaciones de género, el significado asociado a las relaciones sexuales entre hombres y mujeres y sus implicaciones para el diseño de programas de educación sexual.

Palabras clave: VIH/SIDA; diferencias de género; estudiantes universitarios; conductas sexuales de prevención.

HIV affects mainly to young people. So, among adults 15 years and older, young people (15 to 24 years of age) accounted for 40% of new HIV infections in 2006 (UNAIDS & WHo, 2006). Intravenous drug users sharing needles or unprotected same-sex relations still constitute an important means for HIV transmission. However, in Western Europe the number of HIV infections newly diagnosed in persons infected through heterosexual contact increased from 6017 in 2001 to 10722 in 2006 (EuroHIV, 2006, 2007), with the corresponding increase in the number of infected women. Furthermore, the proportion of women among newly infected people with a diagnosis of HIV infection increased from 25% in 1997 to 38% in 2002 (UNAIDS, 2004) and, more recently, the 35% of newly diagnosed HIV infections in 2006 were female (EuroHIV, 2007). …