Comprehensive sex education, including the promotion of consistent condom use, is still an important intervention strategy in tackling unplanned pregnancies, HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among Ugandan adolescents. This study examines predictors of the intention to use a condom and the intention to delay sexual intercourse among secondary school students (aged 12–20) in Uganda.
A school-based sample was drawn from 48 secondary schools throughout Uganda. Participants (N=1978) completed a survey in English measuring beliefs regarding pregnancy, STIs and HIV and AIDS, attitudes, social norms and self-efficacy towards condom use and abstinence/delay, intention to use a condom and intention to delay sexual intercourse. As secondary sexual abstinence is one of the recommended ways for preventing HIV, STIs and unplanned pregnancies among the sexually experienced, participants with and without previous sexual experience were compared.
For adolescents without sexual experience (virgins), self-efficacy, perceived social norms and attitude towards condom use predicted the intention to use condoms. Among those with sexual experience (non-virgins), only perceived social norm was a significant predictor. The intention to delay sexual intercourse was, however, predicted similarly for both groups, with attitudes, perceived social norm and self-efficacy being significant predictors.
This study has established relevant predictors of intentions of safe sex among young Ugandans and has shown that the intention to use condoms is motivated by different factors depending on previous sexual experience. A segmented approach to intervention development and implementation is thus recommended.
Keywords: Ugandan adolescents, Delayed sexual intercourse, Condom use, Attitudes, Social norms, Self-efficacy, Segmented approach, sub-Saharan Africa