Factors associated with the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections among the youth in Uganda
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Sexually transmitted infections are infections that are transmitted predominantly through unprotected sexual activity. The youth are particularly vulnerable to STIs which, when acquired in adolescence, can jeopardize sexual, reproductive, and maternal-child health later in life. The prevalence of STIs among young people has been observed worldwide and highlights the critical need for global efforts to improve sexual and reproductive health in this population. Out of 18506 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey participants, a sample of 1497 participants 899 males and 598 females aged 15–24 years were considered in the study. Selected variables extracted from the 2016 UDHS were used as study variables. Data was analysed using STATA 16 software. Descriptive measures were used to summarize the overall characteristics of the study participants. Bivariate analysis was used to test for the association between the dependent and categorical variables Unadjusted and adjusted binary logistic regression analyses were used to determine associations between the outcome and risk factors. Significant associations, p-value <0.25 from the univariate analysis were included in the final multivariable model. This study suggests that STI prevalence is influenced by an interplay of risk factors. Demographic characteristics, such as religion (p=0.013), marital status (p=0.005), socioeconomic status (p=0.005) and region (p=0.000), and other characteristics such as media exposure by watching television (p=0.007), condom use (p=0.001), and sexual behaviour with multiple partners (p=0.004) play a significant role in determining the likelihood of contracting STIs while demographic characteristics, such as gender (p=0.395), individual’s age (p=0.714), place of residence (p=0.438) and education level (p=0.116), and characteristics, such as media exposure through internet (p=0.647), newspapers (p=0.578) and radio (p=0.544) do not appear to be strong predictors of STI risk among young people in Uganda. This study also suggests that a combination of interventions such as the promotion of education, mass media exposure through television, the promotion of safe sex practices like using condoms, and access to STI testing and counselling services have been effective in reducing the prevalence of STIs among the youth in Uganda. As we conclude our findings, it is evident that a holistic approach is needed to combat the prevalence of STIs among Ugandan youths. By integrating these findings into public health strategies, policymakers, healthcare providers, and educators can work collectively to reduce the burden of STIs among Uganda's youth. This study offers a foundation upon which evidence-based interventions can be built, ultimately contributing to healthier lives and a brighter future for the youth of Uganda.