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Official Publication of the Indian Association for the Study of Sexually Transmitted Diseases
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LETTER TO EDITOR
Year : 2007  |  Volume : 28  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 53-54
 

HIV risk perception in relation to peer pressure and drug abuse behavior among adolescents


1 Department of Applied Psychology, Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology, Hisar, Haryana, India
2 Department of Psychology, Punjabi University, Patiala, India

Correspondence Address:
Sandeep Singh
Department of Applied Psychology, Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology, Hisar, Haryana
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0253-7184.35717

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How to cite this article:
Singh S, Saini S. HIV risk perception in relation to peer pressure and drug abuse behavior among adolescents. Indian J Sex Transm Dis 2007;28:53-4

How to cite this URL:
Singh S, Saini S. HIV risk perception in relation to peer pressure and drug abuse behavior among adolescents. Indian J Sex Transm Dis [serial online] 2007 [cited 2020 Aug 13];28:53-4. Available from: http://www.ijstd.org/text.asp?2007/28/1/53/35717


Sir,

Unsafe sex is the leading cause of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection globally. Young people under the age of 25 are estimated to account for half of all new HIV infections worldwide, with an average of two young persons being infected every hour of every day. HIV/ AIDS is rapidly spreading and has cost millions of lives and billions of dollars to humanity. Studies have shown that despite biological factors like sexual relationships, drug injection, blood transfusion, there are some underlying psychological factors that make one vulnerable to HIV infection - like anxiety, stress, depression, lack of communication, posttraumatic stress disorder, negative affect, domestic problems, etc. Keeping this in mind, the present researchers considered some more relevant psychological factors that seem more influential in HIV infection. These are HIV risk perception, peer pressure and drug abuse behavior.

Risk perception is a faulty perceptual process that makes people vulnerable to risky behaviors. There may be a number of risk factors, for example, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, sex abuse, posttraumatic stress disorder, negative affect and lack of communication, that influence risk perception. The present research is more focused on peer pressure and drug abuse behavior as potential cause of HIV risk vulnerability. Peer pressure is a term describing changes, or temptations to make changes, in attitude, behavior and morals as directly influenced by their peer group. Some teenagers get caught up in romantic feelings and believe having sex is the best way they can prove or demonstrate their love; some teenagers decide to have sexual relationships because their friends think so. Studies have shown that many adolescent girls equate sex with love and/or peer acceptance and suffer undesirable consequences as a result of their actions, such as HIV infection, other sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.

The findings of the present research indicate that there is a very strong relationship between peer pressure and HIV risk perception (r=0.22**); drug abuse behavior and HIV risk perception (r=0.22**); and between peer pressure and drug abuse behavior (r=0.55**) [Table - 1],[Table - 2]. Studies have shown that HIV infection has a strong relation with faulty sexual attitudes [1] and lack of communication. [2] Similarly, alcohol and illegal drugs lower inhibitions and encourage young adults to have sex without protecting themselves against STDs or HIV. Drug use often begins during adolescence and constitutes further vulnerability to HIV infection. Research literature is full of studies of drug abuse and risk of HIV infection. Drug-using populations are more vulnerable to HIV infection. [3] Factors such as peer pressure, lack of maturity, alcohol and drug use put college students at risk for HIV infection. Many young people start experimenting with drugs during their adolescence. Hasida [4] in her study of peer sexual behavior among adolescents found a positive association between the perception of sexual risk behaviors and pressure of peers.

Thus it can be concluded that HIV risk is strongly related with peer pressure and drug abuse behavior. Adolescents who have faulty risk perception are more likely to engage in drug abuse and risky sexual practices. In addition, young adolescents who are under the influence of peer pressure are more prone to HIV risk. Adolescents under the influence of peers are more likely to take drugs, have multiple sex partners and unsafe sex.

 
   References Top

1.Doll LS, Beeker C. Male bisexual behavior and HIV risk in the United States: Synthesis of research with implications for behavioral interventions. AIDS Educ Prev 1996;8:205-25.  Back to cited text no. 1  [PUBMED]  
2.Fisher WA, Byrne D, White LA. Erotophobia-erotophilia as a dimension of personality. J Sex Res 1988;25:123-51.  Back to cited text no. 2    
3.Auerbach JD, Wypijewska C, Brodie KH. AIDS and behavior: An integrated approach. National Academy Press: Washington, DC; 1994.  Back to cited text no. 3    
4.Hasida, Ben-Zur. Peer risk behavior and denial of HIV risk among adolescent. Sex Education: Sex Soc Learn 2003;3:75-85.  Back to cited text no. 4    



 
 
    Tables

  [Table - 1], [Table - 2]



 

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