Background: Migration is a complex process of high uncertainty with adjustments to new contexts and experiences influencing individuals’ health. This study aims to assess the prevalence of self-reported sexual risk-taking behaviors among migrant youth population in Sweden, fulfilling the research gap in that field. Methods: A pre-tested, web-based self-administered cross-sectional survey was used to collect data among 1563 migrant youth (15–25 years old) in Sweden. The survey was conducted in high schools and Swedish language schools for foreigners between December 2018 and November 2019. Pearson chi-square and t-tests were used to compare whether sociodemographic characteristics and migration status varied between those engaging in sexual risk behaviors or not. Multivariate logistic regression was used to determine the adjusted odds ratio of the key outcome variable and independent variables. Results: There is a profound heterogeneity in migrant youth characteristics related to engagement in different sexual risk-taking behaviors. Those engaging in condomless sex were older, coming from the Americas and Europe, living longer in Sweden and came to live with their family. Belonging to the Islamic religion was a protective factor. Sex under the influence of drugs was related to those from Europe, and Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and coming to Sweden to work/study, where age was a protective factor. Living longer in Sweden, coming for work/study or to live with family had higher odds to engage in sex in exchange for gifts/money. Conclusion: The results highlight the needed reconsideration of the broader system response that can influence migrant youth health outcomes and public health implications. The approach should consider and relate to sexual risk-taking behavior’s long-term consequences. Migrant youth background needs and knowledge should guide this response.

DOI: 10.1186/s12889-022-12996-2
ISSN: 1471-2458