246094 Gender differences in sexual risk behaviors highlight need for attention to gendered context

Monday, October 31, 2011

Christi M. Navarro, MS , Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work, Florida International University, Miami, FL
Background: The reproductive and sexual health of adolescents is a matter of national concern, particularly considering risk behaviors associated with unintended pregnancies and HIV/STIs. Sexual health education programs are primarily gender-neutral, but if gender differences are found in risk behaviors and risk factors among program effects in school-based programs, it should be recognized that prevention efforts must address the gendered context in which sexual risk behavior occurs. The purpose of this study was to examine gender differences in sexual risk behaviors and risk factors among adolescents in Florida. Methods: Data was taken from the 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). Participants were students in grades 9-12 (n=5,664; 49% female, 51% male). Regression analyses examined self-report data related to sexual behavior and HIV education, stratified by gender to compare males and females. Variables included age at sexual debut, sexual activity in the past 3 months, number of lifetime sexual partners, condom use, substance abuse, and HIV/AIDS education. Results: Among the variables tested there were some significant differences in sexual behaviors between males and females. Females were more likely than males to report not using a condom during last sexual intercourse (p<.05). Males were more likely than female to report sexual initiation before age 13 (p<.05), having four or more sexual partners (p<.05), substance abuse before last sexual intercourse (p<.05), and not being taught in school about HIV/AIDS (p=.01). Conclusions: These findings will be useful in developing evidence-based, culturally appropriate and gender- tailored education models.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Compare the sexual risk behaviors of female adolescents with that of male adolescents.

Keywords: Gender, Sexual Risk Behavior