Premarital sexual practice during adolescence time may lead to different sexual and reproductive health problems including HIV/AIDS. This study was aimed to assess the prevalence of premarital sexual practice and associated factors among adolescents living in the refugee camps in Tigray, northern Ethiopia.
The prevalence of premarital sexual practice was 47.6% [95% CI (43.3%, 51.9%)]. The age (mean ± SD) of the study participants was 17.4 ± 2.71 (15–24 years) and 68.8% of them were males. Being in the age group 14–19 years [AOR = 4.50, 95% CI (2.29–8.84)] or 20–24 years [AOR = 9.76, CI (4.58–20.82)], living with friends [AOR = 5.24, 95% CI (2.28–12.05)] or alone [AOR = 5.72, 95% CI (2.69–12.19)], being in primary school [AOR = 6.93, 95% CI (3.08–15.57)] or college [AOR = 4.33, CI (1.44–13.02)], getting pocket money [AOR = 4.14, 95% CI (2.31–7.41)], parents being either divorced [AOR = 5.11, 95% CI (2.42–10.80)] or widowed [AOR = 3.52, 95% CI (1.69–7.33)], alcohol consumption [AOR = 1.99, 95% CI (1.20–3.38)] were independent predictors of premarital sexual practice among the adolescents.
According to the World Health Organization, an adolescent is an individual aged from 10 to 19 years. Adolescent is the time of transition from childhood to adulthood and characterized by significant physical, mental, and behavioral changes that may place their life at high risk [1, 2]. Refugees are people including adolescents who have been forced to leave their homes to avoid the effects of armed conflict, generalized violence, violations of human rights, natural or human-made disasters and who have crossed an international border; they are highly vulnerable to different risky sexual behaviors .
Premarital sexual activities among adolescents are increasing from time to time worldwide particularly in developing countries like Ethiopia . The premarital sexual practice among those adolescents particularly living in refugee camps is unprotected and predisposes for different sexual and reproductive health problems . For instance, about 45% of all new HIV infections globally occurred among adolescents aged 15–24 years. In Africa, 60% of all new HIV infections occur in adolescents aged 15–19 years [6,7,8]. Each year, about 15 million adolescents aged 15–19 years gave birth; a large proportion of these pregnancies were unwanted, as many as 4 million experienced unsafe abortion, and up to 100 million were affected by STDs [9,10,11].
Studies in Ethiopia showed that 45% of the total birth occurs among adolescents aged 15–19 years of which 24.4% of them had an unwanted pregnancy and 89% with a history of abortion [12, 13]. The WHO report showed that sexual violence is frequently occurring among adolescents in developing countries . About 54% in Ethiopia and 48% in Bangladesh adolescents aged 15–19 years had experienced sexual violence within the last 12 months respectively . Another study conducted in Kenya showed that 40% sexually experienced adolescent girls and 65% of boys were having more than one sexual partner and only a few of them were using condoms .
Different studies conducted in developing countries revealed that substance use, peer influence, living arrangement, age, having pocket money, watching pornographic video and misconceptions on sexual risk behaviors were factors associated with premarital sexual practice and its complications [5, 16,17,18,19]. Although there were very limited studies, the risks of sexual and reproductive health problems are higher among adolescents living in the refugee camps than for adolescents in the general community . Thus, the aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of premarital sexual practice and its associated factors among Adolescents living in refugee camps, in Tigray, northern Ethiopia.