Behaviors, perceptions and attitudes of youth in Lebanon on sexuality
Principal Investigator (PI): Professor Lilian Ghandour
Co- PIs: Dr. Faysal El- Kak & Professor Loulou Kobeissi
Research Assistant: Rola Yasmine
The main descriptive objective of the study is to describe the patterns of sexual behavior, perceptions, and attitudes of young people (aged 18-30) attending private and public universities in Lebanon. Other more analytical research questions will be formulated to examine more closely the influences of students’ demographic profile, attitude, and perceptions on their sexual behaviors. In all cases, potential gender differences will be examined.
November 2011 – December 2012
Today in Lebanon youth between the ages of 14 and 24 represent 17.9% of the entire population. Reproductive and sexual health (RSH) research in the late 90s identified that Lebanese youth are exposed to high-risk behaviors such as unsafe sexual practices, leading to unplanned pregnancies, STIs, abortions, among others. Despite changing social, cultural and moral norms, reproductive and sexual health research in Lebanon (and the MENA region) remains scant. One study in 2005 focusing on knowledge and practices regarding contraception, underscored the importance of examining youth sexuality and sexual health in Lebanon by showing that about 75% of males and 25% of females admitted to ever having sexual relations (intercourse and outcourse patterns); moreover, 22% of the total sample (48% of males, 7% of females) reported vaginal penetrative intercourse. Besides STIs, early sexual practices, particularly risky and unprotected behaviors, have been associated with other risky behaviors such as substance use, multiple sexual partners, accidental loss of hymen and unintended pregnancies.
Currently, school and university students are not systematically and regularly taught about sexuality and health, contraception, and STI prevention, which adds to the deficient sexual health culture in Lebanon. The incidence of HIV is increasing yearly in Lebanon although the country still has a low level threat of the HIV epidemic. A report issued in 2009 by EMRO-WHO, estimated that by 2008 there were 2,900 people living with HIV in Lebanon. In 2009 the Lebanese MOPH’s declared that 43% of the prevalent cases of HIV in Lebanon occurred via sexual activity. A main reason for low figures of STIs in Lebanon is due to under-reporting and lack of STIs registry. In addition, antibiotics can be purchased without a prescription and patients are apt to self-treat; however unlike bacterial infections viral infections cannot be cured and there has been an increasing incidence rates of Hepatitis B (208 new cases in 2009), Hepatitis C, and HPV.
The present study aims to undertake a cross-sectional nationwide study on private and public university students to help establish baseline estimates of patterns of sexual behaviors, perceptions, and attitudes of youth in Lebanon. Gender differences will be explored. The ten largest universities will be surveyed, covering approximately 85.96% (n=149,390) of the total university population in Lebanon. This will be made possible by using a highly secured online survey method (LimeSurvey) via AUB Academic Computer Center (ACC) servers. The research proposal is currently under review by the American University of Beirut Institutional Review Board (IRB).
Lilian Ghandour Abiad
Faysal El Kak