Purpose: Abstinence is a core pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention strategy. We explore the attitudinal, behavioral, and family contexts relating to abstinence and the decision to delay sex among adolescent boys. Methods: Adolescent boys ages 14-17 years were recruited from community sites using a venue-based sampling method. All eligible boys at venues were invited to participate in an electronic survey. Question items included sexual behaviors, attitudes related to sex, relationships, masculine values, and family contextual items. Results: We enrolled 667 participants, mean age 15.7 years, of diverse ethnicity. A total of 252 were abstinent (38%). Abstinent participants were younger and less likely to report non-coital behaviors, and reported lower conventional masculine values. Among abstinent participants, 62% planned to delay sex, whereas 38% anticipated sex in the next year. Participants with lower conventional masculine values and more religious or moral motivations for abstinence were more likely to plan to delay sex. Conclusions: Abstinence among boys is common, even in high-STI risk communities. For these boys, abstinence appears to be a complex behavioral decision influenced by demographic, behavioral, attitudinal, and contextual factors such as age, race, non-coital sexual behaviors, and masculine values. Understanding the attitudes and contexts of abstinence, including plans to delay sex, can inform the development of public health programs for early fatherhood and STI prevention.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health