Sexual behaviour among young adults presents major public health concerns in part because this period is associated with a number of risk-taking behaviours that increase their susceptibility to sexually transmitted infections, experiences of intimate partner violence and unplanned pregnancies. Although there have been efforts to improve young adult sexual health behaviours, through traditional media, these methods are yet to yield the much-needed behavioural change. With the emergence of new social media sites, there appear to be new opportunities to listen to and engage with young people about sexual and reproductive health issues.
The Sexually Health and Young (SHY) Adults Network
therefore aims contribute to improvements in the sexual and reproductive health of young adults and young adults in SSA by delivering sexual and reproductive health messages on the social media (Facebook) and evaluating the effectiveness of the same. With this network, we aim to resource where young adults can work with sexual health experts and peers in accessing tailored information with regards to sexual and reproductive health. We believe that this network will provide opportunities to listen to and engage with young adults about sexual health and subsequently yield improvement in young adult sexual and reproductive health. This approach contrary to the traditional media involves a lot of listening, guidance and observing rather than simply providing “answers, facts or advice’ which may otherwise be accessible on the internet. The network also has the potential to connect into the broader sexual heal cultures of young people-be it the experience of courtship, ethics, family, morals, practices, fears, dangers, hopes, intimacy, sexual tastes, cultural expectations, and so on (Collins et al. 2011).
This is particularly important since an effective sexuality education has the potential to reduce misinformation, increase correct knowledge and subsequently help young people to abstain from or delay the debut of sexual relations, reduce risky sexual behaviours and unintended pregnancy (Jones et al., 2014; UNESCO, 2009). Accurate sexuality education provided through this network also has the potential to contribute significantly to improving the sexual and reproductive health knowledge and practices of young adults, thereby also supporting HIV prevention effort (Samuels et al., 2013). We anticipate the increased broadband mobile internet coverage, even rural sites in many African countries will allow young people to connect anywhere (including rural areas) with reception (Pfeiffer et al., 2014).