A survey of current knowledge on sexually transmitted diseases and sexual behaviour in Italian adolescents

Francesco Drago, Giulia Ciccarese, Francesca Zangrillo, Giulia Gasparini, Ludovica Cogorno, Silvia Riva, Sanja Javor, Emanuele Cozzani, Francesco Broccolo, Susanna Esposito, Aurora Parodi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Worldwide, 500 million people a year acquire a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Adolescents, accounting for 25% of the sexually active population, are the most affected. To analyze sexual behavior among Italian adolescents and their knowledge of STDs, with the goal of preventing their transmission, a questionnaire was administered to 2867 secondary school students (1271 males and 1596 females) aged 14-21 years. For the study, 1492 students were interviewed in Genoa (Northern Italy) and 1375 in Lecce (Southern Italy). For 37% of the respondents, parents and teachers were the main source of information on sex, and 95% believed that school should play the primary role in sex education. However, only 9% considered the sex education they received in school good. Noteworthy, only 0.5% of the teenagers recognized the sexually transmitted diseases from a list of diseases, and 54% of them did not know what a Pap test was. Confusion about the meaning of contraception and prevention was evident; only 22% knew that condoms and abstinence are the only methods for preventing STDs. Finally, a consistent number of students are exposed to risk factors for STDs transmission; e.g., alcohol and recreational drug use, promiscuity and improper condom use. On the basis of our study, there is an urgent need for the introduction of sex education as a proper subject in Italian schools.

Original languageEnglish
Article number422
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume13
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 13 2016

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Sex education
  • Sexual behaviour
  • Sexual health
  • Sexually transmitted diseases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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  • Cite this

    Drago, F., Ciccarese, G., Zangrillo, F., Gasparini, G., Cogorno, L., Riva, S., Javor, S., Cozzani, E., Broccolo, F., Esposito, S., & Parodi, A. (2016). A survey of current knowledge on sexually transmitted diseases and sexual behaviour in Italian adolescents. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 13(4), [422]. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph13040422