Ng, Chirk-Jenn
Research Based
OBJECTIVES: To explore the attitudes and practices of safe sex among adolescents in an urban centre in Malaysia
METHODS: This qualitative study involved in-depth interviews with 16 sexually-active late adolescents (10 females, 6 males; aged 18-22 years) from private colleges and they were recruited by "snowballing" method: The interviews were audio-taped and transcribed. Analysis was performed independently by two researchers
RESULTS: Most participants were more concerned about pregnancy rather than sexually transmitted diseases (STD) when they interpreted safe sex. Almost all did not use condom routinely. Both male and female participants in stable relationships trusted their partners and felt that their risks of STD were low. They relied on their partners to practice safe sex, and did not openly discuss about it. For males who practised withdrawal method, they felt that they were in control. Males felt less pleasurable and troublesome when using condom, while the female tend to accept their partners' preference not to use condom rather than to negotiate with them. Lastly, some adolescents were complacent in their attitudes towards pregnancy and STD.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION: Despite an increasing awareness of STD and pregnancy, the adolescents in this study did not practice safe sex. This was attributed to their perceptions of risk, their attitudes towards condom, lack of knowledge regarding methods of safe sex, as well as the lack of skills to negotiate with their partners regarding safe sex. Gender and power differences are important underlying factors which influence their sexual behaviour.
Topic: Health Behaviour Change