BACKGROUND: There are very few studies that have examined sexual intentions and behaviors of adolescents in Islamic countries. This study employs the Health Belief Model to assess the correlates of the intention to remain sexually inactive among male adolescents in the Republic of Iran.
METHODS: This cross-sectional study was performed with a sample of 314 adolescents recruited from 3 high schools from Tehran, Iran.
RESULTS: Fifty-seven percent of this sample planned to remain abstinent until marriage. Another 23% rejected the notion of remaining abstinent and 20% were uncertain. Multinomial logistic regression revealed that students whose mothers were employed and who received a higher daily allowance were more likely to report that they would not remain abstinent. No significant independent relationship between human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome-related knowledge and an intention to remain abstinent was detected. However, consistent with previous studies conducted in Asia, Africa, and in Western countries, we documented that (1) perceived subjective norms, (2) self-efficacy, (3) and perceived susceptibility to contracting the HIV virus all are associated with the intention to remain sexually inactive among adolescents.
CONCLUSIONS: It seems abstinence until marriage is more likely to be practiced in traditional families. However, Iranian society is changing rapidly and traditional family structures, values, and norms may not sufficiently protect adolescents from HIV infection. The data from this study support previous studies conducted in Western countries, which found that intervention programs that focus on knowledge alone are ineffective in their ability to alter adolescents’ intentions to postpone sexual activity.