June 6, 2007
"Prevalences of sexually transmissible infections (STI), unsafe sex, and abortions are increasing in Australia and people aged 16-29 are particularly at risk," the authors began. At the Big Day Out annual music festival, a structured questionnaire was administered to a cross-sectional sample of people ages 16-29 to assess their behavior, knowledge, and perception of STI risk.
At the festival, 939 people (507 females, 432 males) completed the questionnaire. Respondents' median age was 20. Eighty percent (751 people) reported ever having had vaginal or anal sex. Forty-eight percent reported multiple partners in the previous year. Sixty-six percent reported a new partner in the previous three months. Thirty percent of those who had ever had sex reported not using condoms all or most of the time and were thus classified as being at risk for STI. However, only 24 percent of those deemed at risk believed themselves to be at risk.
Of sexually experienced respondents, 43 percent reported not using a condom because they were high or drunk. Knowledge of STI was poor overall. Males, people living outside metropolitan areas, those under age 20, and those with less education scored relatively poorly on STI knowledge.
"Our data suggest that young men and women who attend the Big Day Out are sexually active young adults with limited knowledge of STI and blood-borne viruses who regularly engage in behaviours that put them at risk of infection," the authors concluded.