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International News

United States, Canada: Rural, Urban Singles Are Very Much Alike When It Comes to Sex

December 19, 2007

A new study finds very little difference between rural and urban singles in terms of the number of sex partners, frequency of unprotected sex, and testing for HIV and other STDs.

"The first task for health educators in rural areas is to get the message out there that these infections don't discriminate based on geography," said Robin Milhausen, professor of family relations at the University of Guelph. Milhausen, who worked on the report with Bin Huang and Richard Crosby of the University of Kentucky and Bill Yarber of Indiana University, said the study of U.S. data has implications for Canadians as well.

"The study suggests there are actually few differences between rural and non-rural individuals in terms of their risk behavior, so we shouldn't neglect rural areas in Canada when it comes to prevention and education efforts," Milhausen said. Rural areas, home to fewer than 50,000 people, make up 95 percent of Canada. Thirty percent of Canadians live in areas classified as remote.

Among the study's findings:

  • The average number of sex partners was about seven for rural men and about eight for non-rural men.
  • Rural women reported an average of five partners, and non-rural women reported six.
  • No condom use at last intercourse was reported by about 46 percent of rural and non-rural men alike. Among women, not using a condom was reported by 47 percent in rural settings and 51 percent in non-rural settings.
  • Having been tested for HIV was reported by 44 percent of men in both groups, and by 50 percent of rural women and 59 percent of non-rural women.

Yet while the level of risk exposure is similar between both populations, "It's often more difficult to access testing and treatment in rural areas, and there appears to be more of a stigma associated with accessing these resources in small communities," Milhausen said.

The study is set to be published in Health Education Monograph.

Back to other news for December 2007

Adapted from:
The Record (Kitchener-Waterloo)

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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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