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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


RUIZ-CANELA, Miguel et al. Family, friends, and other sources of information associated with the initiation of sexual relations by adolescents in El Salvador. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2012, vol.31, n.1, pp.54-61. ISSN 1680-5348.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study is to verify the influence of messages Salvadorian youth receive about sexuality, affection, and leisure from family, friends, and the media on the initiation of sexual activity. METHODS: Cross-sectional study based on a representative sample of 2 615 students (from 13 to 19 years of age) in El Salvador. A random systematic sampling was used to select 30 schools. Sociodemographic aspects, lifestyles, and sources of information on sexuality and love used by the young people were collected. RESULTS: The average age of the young people studied was 15 (SD = 1.8). In all, 638 (24.4%) of the young people stated that they had had sexual relations. The following factors are associated with a greater probability of having had sexual relations: a perception that siblings (OR = 1.8, CI 95%: 1.2-2.7) or friends (OR = 1.7, CI 95%: 1.3-2.2) encourage them to have sex. Protective factors were found to be the supervision of parents (OR = 0.5, CI 95%: 0.4-0.7); messages received from friends that encourage abstinence (OR = 0.7, CI 95%: 0.6-1.0) or from siblings (OR = 0.7, CI 95%: 0.5-0.8); and favorable messages related to marriage received from parents (OR = 0.4, CI 95%: 0.3-0.6). CONCLUSIONS: Messages from family and friends are factors that seem to influence the initiation of sexual activity by young people. Sexual health promotion programs in El Salvador should take these factors into account.

Keywords : Sexual behavior; adolescent behavior; socioeconomic factors; El Salvador.

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