Introduction: As part of the young age bracket, undergraduate university students are exposed to a range of risky behaviors including HIV/AIDS. Given the paucity of data among the risk behaviors of African university students, this study was conducted to examine the sexual risk behaviors of this group in Ethiopia.
Methods: A self-administered questionnaire was used to collect information on socio-demographic and sexual risk behavior characteristics among 1,286 undergraduate students at Haramaya University, Ethiopia from March to April, 2010. Multivariate logistic regression models were used to derive adjusted odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI).
Results: About 355 (28%; 95% CI 25.5-30.5) students reported to have had sexual intercourse at least once. More proportion of male students ever had sex compared to females (OR 4.8; 95% CI 3.4-6.8, p<0.001). One fifth (22.8%) of these students had their sexual debut after they joined university. About six percent of students with sexual experience reported having had intercourse with same-sex partners. Half of the males with sexual experience had intercourse with a commercial sex worker. About 60% of students reported to have used a condom rarely.
Conclusion: Our findings indicate that there is a high level of sexual risk behavior among the study population. Significant proportion of students were sexually active, the majority started sexual intercourse before they joined university. We recommend awareness campaigns and interventions on sexual and reproductive health issues for high school and university students in Ethiopia.
Keywords: Ethiopia; HIV/AIDS; Sexual risk behavior; Students; sexual intercourse; undergraduate; university; youth.