Evidence on STI knowledge among Iranian nonmedical university students is limited. Information is needed to inform research and policies to improve the sexual health of university students in Iran.
A convenience sample of 742 male and female undergraduate and graduate students was recruited from five nonmedical public and private universities in Iran in 2014. Respondents' awareness of and knowledge about STIs were assessed using a validated questionnaire. Chi-square tests, student t tests and one-way analysis of variance were used to compare the percentage of respondents giving correct responses across subgroups of students.
Half of the respondents had ever heard of STIs, but most could not correctly identify STIs in a list of diseases. A total of 49%, 42% and 9% of the respondents had low, moderate and high STI knowledge scores, respectively. Respondents reported online sources (62%) and friends (32%) as their main sources of information about STIs, and those who were older, ever-married or more educated were more knowledgeable than other respondents.
Given that the Internet was students' main source of information, increasing the accessibility and visibility of credible Internet sites about sexual health is warranted. Also, key individuals in students' networks (e.g., parents, teachers, peers) should be equipped with required training and knowledge on STI-related topics and be actively involved in sexual health education efforts.