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Sexual Risk Behaviors Among Rural Youth in Colombia: An Application of the Integrative Model with Emphasis on Social Norms Open Access

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Within the framework of the Integrative Model, the present study aimed to examine the role of injunctive social norms (ISN) and descriptive social norms (DSN) on intentions to initiate sexual activity, to use condoms consistently and to get an HIV test, in a sample of youth ages 14 to 24 years living in 10 municipalities in Colombia. The potential moderation effects of age, sex and sexual experience on the association between social norms and intentions were also explored. The present dissertation is a secondary analysis of a subsample of 2100 youth drawn from a larger cross-sectional survey of sexual and reproductive health among Colombian youth. Information was collected using a paper-and-pencil survey that assessed different aspects of sexual and reproductive health. Findings strongly supported the association between ISN and all three behavioral intentions. DSN, on the other hand, were significantly associated with intentions to use condoms consistently and to get an HIV test, but only among sexually experienced youth, and only for norms regarding the behavior of same-sex peers. The current study shows that the relationship between social norms and sexual health-related intentions is complex, and varies depending on the characteristics of the behavior, the target and the source of influence. Although additional research is needed to further understand the complexities of social normative influences, the present study provides valuable information for theory, research and intervention in the field of sexual health among youth.

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