Assessing the knowledge and attitudes to sexual and reproductive health education among young adults in Kerala, India
Keywords:Sexual and Reproductive Health Education, Knowledge, Attitude, Gender, Teenagers, Young People, Kerala, India
Background: In India, sex education is considered a controversial topic with many taboos existing. Whist this is irrespective of religious and political views it is thought that sex education can impact negatively on the values and culture of Indian traditions. Due to the high incidence of HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy, and other sexually transmitted diseases in India there is a need for comprehensive sex education within the curriculum. However, there are opponents and proponents for this. The current study aims to explore the knowledge and attitude of sexual and reproductive health among young adults in Kerala, India to further knowledge concerning whether young people in Kerala require sex education as part of their curriculum
Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried using validated questionnaire and 121 participants aged between 18-24 years of age participated in the survey. The survey was online and advertised via social media. The data were analysed using SPSS software, chi-square test was used (p<0.05 considered as significant)
Results: The majority of participants were female (74%).There was a statistically significant difference found between men and women’s attitudes towards sexual abstinence (p=0.039). The majority of participants thought unsafe sexual practices was one of the major health issues encountered by the younger generation. There was a statistically significant difference among male and female participants opinions towards multiple sexual partners (p=0.040); the majority (85%) of females believe that it is better to have sex with one partner, with 69% of male students sharing this view. Over 80% of students had good knowledge regarding reproduction including fertilization, and physical changes happening in puberty. However less students (69%) held good knowledge concerning sexually transmitted diseases that can lead to infertility. Overall, female students had comparatively better knowledge than male students. Participants reported obtaining their sexual health information from peer groups (75%), followed by internet (54%). Whilst 70% of female students obtained information from health professionals this was much lower for male participants (25%). The majority of students (93%) favoured sexual education being included in the curriculum.
Conclusion: This study highlights differences in sexual and reproductive health knowledge and behaviours between males and females, as well as an overreliance on receiving sexual health information from peer groups. Participants advocated for sexual education being included in the curriculum, and this study recommends that school-based sexual health education in considered within India.
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