Eggers, S.M., Mathews, C., Aarø, L.E., et al. AIDS and Behavior (June 2016), e-publication ahead of print.
This 2013 longitudinal study of 1,670 eighth-grade adolescents from 20 public schools in the Western Cape, South Africa, examined primary and secondary abstinence intentions and early sexual activity in this population. At baseline, the authors asked participants to fill out a questionnaire on abstinence, attitudes, social norms, self-efficacy, risk perception, and knowledge. At six-month follow-up, factors associated with sexual activity differed considerably among groups. For sexually inactive boys at baseline, greater knowledge about HIV and condom use were significantly associated with sexual activity at follow-up; for sexually inactive girls at baseline, lower intentions to abstain, perceiving fewer benefits from abstinence, and higher levels of knowledge about HIV and condom use were significantly associated with sexual activity. Among sexually active adolescents, lower perceptions of and weaker social norms about sexual abstinence were significantly associated with sexual activity at follow-up. Other socio-cognitive factors, such as self-efficacy to delay sex and knowledge about HIV and condom use, appeared to have less influence on intention to stay abstinent, but were still significant predictors in this study. The authors concluded that future interventions that promote sexual abstinence should address social norms, attitudes, and risk perceptions to enhance motivations to stay abstinent during adolescence.