Engaging in recreational and experimental sex is a growing trend among Iranian youth, according to Mehdi Moslemifar, a psychologist, sex therapist, and marriage counselor.

“Studies have shown that the number of divorces, extramarital affairs, and short-term relationships has steadily increased in the past few decades,” Mr. Moslemifar said. “Economic considerations dissuade many young people from getting married. Some men are reluctant to commit to a long-term relationship, given that many girls change partners frequently and quickly nowadays.”

Mr. Moslemifar explained: “Studies have shown that the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) among Iranian youths. A person infected with HPV may not show any signs or symptoms. In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and causes no health problems. However, sometimes, it can cause genital warts and even cancer.”

“HPV is a different virus than HIV and HSV (herpes). It mainly affects people in their late teens and early 20s,” Moslemifar noted. “Unfortunately, many sexual health clinics in Iran focus on contraception rather than providing sexual health advice.”

There has also been a significant surge in the number of young people diagnosed with HIV in recent years, according to a report by the Iranian Research Center for HIV/AIDS (IRCHA)-Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS). Data has shown that while only 3 percent of all recorded HIV cases in 2016 in Iran were women, the number rose to 10 percent in 2018.

Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi