Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a group of diseases that can be transferred from person to person or between sexual partners through sexual intercourse. These diseases travel via semen, sperm, blood or vaginal fluids from one person to the next through sexual contact, and from mother to child. These includes diseases such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis, HIV and genital herpes (Satterwhite, 2017). STDs have proven themselves to be more common in university students and this can be attributed in part to the lack of knowledge about these diseases and also to ignorance attributed to either personal irresponsibility or lack of pre-exposure to reproduction and sexual health education, either formerly at an institution by a trained professional or informally at home.
Risk behaviours associated with either the acquisition or transmission of STDs from one person to the next. Risk behaviours are a set of individual conducts that increases an individual’s risk profile for a particular fate, in this case acquiring STDs. The most common risk behaviours known among young adults and students are a promiscuous life style, use of recreational substances partying, and cheating. More often than not the use of recreational substances leads to unprotected sex which gets one at the risk of being infected with STDs (Sieving, 2017). A promiscuous life seems to be fashionable among young adults and students, multiple sex partners make one reservoir of transmitting STDs more especially in girls because in most cases they do not show signs and symptoms.
Signs and symptoms are not always present more especially in women and girls. Some STDs do not show any visible signs and symptoms the individual is referred to as being asymptomatic. Signs and symptoms are referred to as mental or physical features that serve as an indication to a condition of a particular disease. Signs and symptoms associated with STDs are usually open sores, bumps, blisters and itching of the external sex organs and change in vaginal discharge in women and girls. Every individual sexually transmitted disease has a range or a set of signs and symptoms that serve as diagnostic features, so in effect experiencing the generalized signs and symptoms does not necessarily mean that one is affected with an STD they may as well serve as indicators for other diseases.
Failure to treat beyond the level of the body’s potential to tolerate the discomfort can lead to infertility and death. If the signs and symptoms are discovered early enough, measures can be put forward to either stop the occurrence of an STD or at least decrease its rate of development in case it has already occurred. Just as every disease has its own signs and symptoms so is the case with the treatment measures for every STD. individuals are firmly advised to see a medical doctor when they start to experience any signs and symptoms associated with any of the STDs because the diseases cannot be treated properly without the prescriptions offered by a medical professional (Jones, 2016). Antibiotics prescribed must be used until they finish even though symptoms disappear.
Sexually transmitted diseases can be prevented to a certain extent, as measures available for one to prevent getting the diseases under normal circumstances. The most reliable of the preventions is abstinence from sexual contact, oral, anal or vaginal. Other preventive measures include vaccination, reduction of sexual partners, mutual monogamy practise and the constant condom use (Diclemente, 2017). The sexual behaviours of university students are dependent on the information and approach towards sexually transmitted diseases, through a set of questions we hope to prove this.
Materials and Methods
The study was conducted at Zone Alpha in the Nobody district based on logistic purposes. Since the study involved future healthcare providers, two higher-learning institutions, which represent both public and private universities, were selected from this zone.
The study employed a cross-sectional study design.
Simple random sampling was used for the selection of students. The list of students was obtained from the registration units. Then, a computer random number generator was used to select the students recruited for the study. This simple random technique was employed to avoid any potential biases.
The purpose of the study was explained to the selected students [females = 205 and males n =158] before their class sessions, and they were encouraged to participate. Selected students who were present at the time of the survey were approached by the investigators. Those who agreed to participate were asked to give their consent and complete a set of questions. The questionnaires were designed in English.
The study instrument was a self-administered questionnaire. The content validity of the study instrument was done by cross-checking and authentication from experts in the field of study. Afterwards, modifications were made according to the recommendations and counsel. The validated questionnaire was made up of four parts: socio-demographic characteristics (gender, age, ethnicity, and educational level). The students’ knowledge on STDs was assessed by using - a diagnostic item questionnaire. Participants were instructed to give a “yes”, “no” or “do not know” answer.
Data were analysed using Stata statistical software. Descriptive statistics were used to determine the frequency of the students’ responses.
Results and Discussion
The aims and objective for this research was to describe the knowledge and attitudes regarding sexual transmitted diseases amongst university students and to relate the findings to sexual behaviour. A questionnaire based on sexually transmitted diseases was conducted amongst students in a tertiary institution. A total of 205 young females took part in the survey while only 158 males took part. This indicates that woman are more likely to go head to head with the reality of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). From the study conducted and shown in table above, it is evident from the first question (which is the most important basic question asking about the knowledge of STDs) that women are more aware of what STDs are than men. It is said that awareness plays a significant role in the acquisition of STDs, giving women a slight advantage when it comes to that. Even though females showed to have more knowledge about the ins and outs of STDs, another important question asked was if any of them have ever had an STD and there were 76% of the females that said yes while only 71% males answered yes. This corresponds to past statistics and clinical surveys made about women being more susceptible to acquiring STDs, including HIV/AIDS, than males. There are many possible explanations behind that. One of them the anatomy of the female genitalia. Unlike the penis, the vagina is on the inside, this means that the male’s seminal fluids get trapped inside there and if they have infections, those will easily cause infections in the woman’s uterus or fallopian tubes. Also women are more prone to sexual violence, cultural practices and being more submissive to men. All these may result in vaginal tearing and thus a greater STD predisposition (Forhan et al., 2017). From the results, 13% of the males don’t know if they’ve had STDs while all the females know whether or not they’ve had STDs. That further indicates the ignorance of males regarding awareness of their health status. This questionnaire further revealed that the male population is rather selfish or shy when it comes to speaking out about their STD status as 95% of them feel entitled to knowing their partners’ status but only 76% of them feel that their partner is not entitled to know if they have any STDs themselves. That percentage remained on the same level for females, meaning they felt both partners are entitled to knowing each other’s statuses, which is morally correct as that would prevent any unwanted STDs. When it came to condoms and their use, it was seen that males are more informed about how to use them and their effectiveness as compared to females. This is true because male condoms are much more popular than female condoms. Buying condoms is also seen as a “men thing” when it comes to protection.
There have been many other studies that have been conducted in order to assess the knowledge of sexually transmitted diseases amongst the different sexes. Our finding indicates that females are much more aware and knowledgeable about the sexually transmitted diseases than males. This differs with the study titled ‘Knowledge, attitudes and behaviour towards sexually transmitted diseases in Turkish Cypriot adolescents’ (Kaptanoğlu, 2016). Their study revealed that girls are not as knowledgeable as boys. This difference can perhaps differ because of the age groups that the survey was focused on. Their study was based on high school students’ sources of information and knowledge of the STDs issue. It can therefore be concluded that age plays a huge role in the knowledge of sexually transmitted diseases. It is evident that the older females (varsity students) are more sexually promiscuous and more knowledgeable and exposed to STDs. Different countries might also differ in exposure and knowledge as the other study was conducted in Turkey. On the other hand our study coincides with the study conducted (Pereira and Carmo, 2016). This was where females showed a higher prevalence in contracting sexually transmitted diseases, they had a 4% difference. Their study was conducted based on university students. It can be said that the general overview is mostly similar among the same age groups and the genders.
The results indicates who is more educated and knowledgeable about sexually transmitted diseases between men and women and they also provide light on who needs attention between this two genders. The women have a higher percentage of being knowledgeable and educated about STDs, in that they might have been more exposed to STDs and have acquired the knowledge from their health care facilities. Provided that young adults are the ones responsible for the increase in STDs transmission, we can find out why and address these issues. The results also indicates that there are still men who need to be educated about the STDs, how to use a condoms and the importance of telling their partners when they get any STD and to advice their partners to also get tested. Real life application of the data collected can be used by the government in association with health workers and non-government organizations (NGOs) as insight of means to better improve campaigns and structures to inform tertiary students about sexually transmitted diseases and use the different data to produce local standard cut off points that can be compared nationally and internationally with other tertiary institutions. This information can be used to keep progress of the campaigns and structure placed to determine whether the sexual health of the individuals in tertiary institutions is improving or decreasing.
From the results obtained we can confirm that females in tertiary institution have a positive approach towards not only understanding but also applying their knowledge towards sexually transmitted diseases unlike males who tend to deviate from the reality which is that of sexually transmitted diseases. To alleviate the effect of sexually transmitted diseases, it has to be a combined effort not only by women but also by men. Initiatives and campaigns to encourage the interest of man as well as more women can be applied in tertiary institutions to increase healthier sexual behaviors and reduce sexually transmitted diseases.
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