Background: Mobile-phone and social-media (SM) use in Uganda has increased. The association between SM use, sexting and sexual risk-behaviors is unknown. This study aims to determine the association between SM use (social networking sites (SNS), apps and sexting (sexually explicit text/photo)) with sexual behaviors and history of STIs.
Methods: Anonymous surveys addressing SM use/sexual behaviors were administered to 13-21 year olds from Naguru Teenage Information and Health Center in Kampala, Uganda. Chi-square/regression analyses adjusting for age/gender assessed relationships between SM use and sexual behaviors (vaginal, oral, anal sex), consistent condom use, risky sexual behaviors (>4 lifetime partners, >1 recent partner last 3 months), and self-reported STI.
Results: >90% of surveys were completed (N=326); 57.1% female, mean age 18±3 years. Males and females reported similar vaginal (19.2% vs 17.7% p=.73), oral (4.2% vs 4.3% p=.99), anal sex (2.8% vs 1.1% p=.85). Frequent SNS use (>10x/day)(17.7%), apps (17.1%), ever sexting (34.1%). Sexually active participants reported consistent condom use (67.2%), >4 lifetime partners (5.2%), >1 recent partner (4.6%), STI diagnoses (31.1%). Frequent SNS, app, and ever sexters had greater odds of vaginal sex (SNS 1.49 [1.25-1.77]; app 1.50[1.26-1.79], ever sexting 1.55 [1.16-2.08]). Frequent SNS, app users, and ever sexters had higher odds of consistent condom use (SNS 2.30[1.10-4.84], app 2.29 [1.09-4.77], ever sexter 3.80[1.17-12.36]). Only ever sexters had increased odds of ever having STI (3.80[1.17-12.36]). No association was found between frequent SM use or sexting and risky sexual behaviors. No association was found with sexual activity or risky sexual behaviors among those reporting never using social media
Conclusions: Frequent SM use and sexting was associated with higher odds of vaginal sex but also higher odds of consistent condom use. Sexting, was associated with ever having STI. Providers should be aware of different uses of SM modalities and provide guidance to help decrease sexual risk behaviors.