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Arch Hellen Med, 30(2), March-April 2013, 197-204


The sexual behavior of Greek adolescents: Attitudes towards HIV infection and condom use

Ε. Vouzounerakis, Μ. Moirasgenti, Ν. Kavaka, Ε. Panagopoulou, Α. Benos
Laboratory of Hygiene, Medical School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece

OBJECTIVE A considerable proportion of new HIV infections in Greece present in people aged up to 29 years, probably due to infection during adolescence. Condom use is relatively low in this age group and the attitudes of adolescents affect their intentions to use condoms. The aim of this study was to record the attitudes of adolescents concerning HIV infection and condom use and their change through time.

METHOD The study was conducted in two urban high schools with a sample of 726 15-year old pupils in the consecutive school years 2002 to 2007. Attitudes were assessed using a questionnaire on beliefs about general and personal vulnerability to HIV, beliefs and subjective norms about condom use, perceived control in condom use and intention to use condoms. The adolescents' attitudes were analyzed in relation to gender and possible change over time.

RESULTS The adolescents believed that general and personal vulnerability to HIV infection was low. Their attitudes towards condom use were not strongly positive, and perceived control in condom use and subjective norms were recorded at just above the median in the total score range, while intention to use condom was found to be strong. The female adolescents recorded higher scores on perception of general vulnerability to sexually transmitted infections, and more positive attitudes towards condom use, and their subjective norms were more supportive to condom use, compared to the male adolescents. Male adolescents reported higher values of perceived control in condom use. Finally, no significant change in the adolescents' attitudes was observed over the time period of the study.

CONCLUSIONS The negative attitude of Greek adolescents towards condom use has a detrimental effect on their use of condoms. Gender differences in beliefs undermine choices directed towards safer sexual practices. These findings raise concern about the effectiveness of nationwide health promoting campaigns and reveal the need for new strategies targeting safe sex in adolescence.

Key words: Adolescents, Attitudes, Condom use, Health education, HIV.

© Archives of Hellenic Medicine