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Adolescents accessing pornography and having unfriendly relationship with parents have higher likelihood of early sex initiation, making them vulnerable to Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) like HIV, as most of them have low levels of knowledge regarding symptoms of STDs.

This has been revealed in a study conducted by the National AIDS Research Institute (NARI), Pune.

Adolescence is a period described as of ‘storm and stress’, is a crucial phase of development.

Recognition that the adolescents do have reproductive and sexual health needs is a controversial topic worldwide. In India, there is a reluctance to accept that young people might be engaging in risky premarital sex.

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According to National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), lack of access to correct information (almost 73 per cent of young people have misconceptions about modes of HIV transmission), tendency to experiment and an environment where discussing issues around sexuality is taboo, adds to the vulnerability of the adolescents.

The study found that adolescents who reported sexual abuse, STD symptoms, smoking habit and those who had not read scientific literature on reproductive and sexual health were more likely to have initiated sex early.

The study is titled 'Correlates of Sex Initiation among School Going Adolescents in Pune, India'. It has been authored by Dr Seema Sahay, Amit Nirmalkar and Suvarna Sane from NARI and Sanjay Mehendale from National Institute of Epidemiology, Chennai. "Premarital sexual activity, both consensual and non-consensual, was reported indicating a need for school based adolescent reproductive and sexual health education (ARSHE) programs in Maharashtra," Dr Sahay, principal investigator of the study said. According to Dr Sahay, the program in India should focus on specialised interventions for adolescents. "Routine health check-ups and probing on symptoms of STDs, non-consensual sex and other risky practices should be implemented in schools," she said.

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Source
Sakal Times
11 Sep 2013, Pune

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