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Medical News

Two Steps Forward and One Step Back? Australian Secondary Students' Sexual Health Knowledge and Behaviors 1992-2002

April 20, 2006

The current study examined changes in the sexual health knowledge and the sexual risk behaviors of 10th- through 12th-grade students in Australia between 1992 and 2002. Data were gathered from surveys administered at five yearly intervals. Participants were 6,781 students in 263 government secondary schools in all Australian states and territories.

The researchers' analysis of data from the three survey administrations revealed high levels of knowledge about HIV/AIDS but also documented a small but consistent decline since 1992. Knowledge about STDs and hepatitis remained poor. The researchers found an increase in 2002 in the number of students reporting ever having had intercourse. This increase was most evident for 10th-grade students. From 1992 to 2002, the proportion of male 10th-graders reporting three or more partners doubled to 33 percent. The proportion of female 10th-graders reporting three or more partners also increased. While the study found consistent condom use rose over time, it noted that 39 percent of participants reported only occasional condom use.

"School-based sexual health education provides a critical basis for ensuring that young people begin to experience sex safely and with an appropriate knowledge base," the researchers concluded.

Back to other news for April 20, 2006

Adapted from:
Journal of Adolescent Health
03.06; Vol. 38; No. 3: P. 247-252; Paul A. Agius, Grad. Dip.; Sue Dyson, Grad. Dip.; Marian K. Pitts, Ph.D.; Anne Mitchell, M.A.; Anthony M.A. Smith, Ph.D.

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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