Knowledge and Attitudes of Students at a Caribbean Offshore Medical School Towards Sexually Transmitted Infections and Use of Condoms

28 May 2019

Background: Sexually transmitted infections remain one of the predominant health issues that affect young adults. The aim of this study is to assess the level of knowledge, the attitudes and misconceptions of medical students at a Caribbean University towards STIs and condom use. Method: A cross-sectional descriptive study was carried out among medical students by employing semi-structured questionnaires. Results: Out of 150 questionnaires, 130 were completed, showing a response rate of 87%. The ages of the respondents ranged from 19 to 45 years with a mean age of 26 (SD 5.2) years. The findings indicated that the knowledge of students concerning STIs is high (95.4%). Twenty-four (18.5%) of the respondents had experienced vaginal/penile discharge following sexual intercourse over the last 6 months. The correlation of beliefs in condom usage and risky behaviour gives an odds ratio of 0.19 indicating a lower use of condoms among the students. A negative attitude towards condom usage was seen in 3.8% of the respondents. The main reason for condom usage was to prevent unwanted pregnancy and not to prevent contracting sexually transmitted infections. Conclusion: The knowledge of students about STIs in this study was found to be high, however, risky behaviour such as having sexual intercourse with commercial sex-workers and regular unprotected sexual activities were identified although the prevalence of such behaviour was found to be low. We therefore recommend that behaviour modification programmes with regard to sex education and condom usage be implemented for the medical students as they are to be the future educators of the public on these matters.