Adolescents in Vietnam: Looking Beyond Reproductive Health

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Abstract

The research that has been conducted to date on Vietnamese adolescents has focused on unprotected and unsanctioned sexual activity and its health consequences, specifically abortion and sexually transmitted diseases, especially HIV. The question we pose in this article is whether this concern is warranted. Is the population community justified in limiting research on this population to early sexual activity and HIV risk? Even if the sexual behavior of young people can be considered problematic, are there perhaps other aspects of young peoples' lives to which more attention should be devoted? The literature on adolescent sexual behavior in Vietnam is reviewed and data on premarital sex and reproductive behavior are analyzed from a 1999 survey conducted in six provinces among nearly 1,500 adolescent boys and girls aged 15–22. Descriptive data on schooling and work are included in order to put the information on sexual activity in perspective. The data analysis reveals that, at least currently, the sexual behavior of unmarried adolescents in Vietnam is not what jeopardizes their health and well-being.

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