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RESEARCH ARTICLE

Sexual risk and healthcare seeking behaviour in young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in North Queensland

Robert Scott A , Regina Foster A , Lisa N. Oliver A , Anna Olsen B , Julie Mooney-Somers C , Bradley Mathers B , Joanne M. Micallef B , John Kaldor B and Lisa Maher B D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Townsville Aboriginal and Islander Health Service, 57–59 Gorden Street, Garbutt, Qld 4814, Australia.

B The Kirby Institute, UNSW Australia, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

C Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: Lmaher@kirby.unsw.edu.au

Sexual Health 12(3) 194-199 https://doi.org/10.1071/SH14092
Submitted: 24 May 2014  Accepted: 22 October 2014   Published: 15 December 2014

Abstract

Background: Compared with non-Indigenous Australians, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have higher rates of sexually transmissible infections (STI). The identification of the sexual risk and healthcare seeking behaviours of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in a regional Australian setting was sought. Methods: A cross-sectional survey of 155 young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (16–24 years) in Townsville was conducted. Results: Most participants (83%) reported ever having had sex, with a median age of 15 years at first sex and a range from 9 to 22 years. While young men reported more sexual partners in the last 12 months than young women, they were also more likely to report condom use at the last casual sex encounter (92% vs 68%, P = 0.006). Young women were significantly more likely than young men to report never carrying condoms (35% vs 16%); however, they were more likely to have had STI testing (53% vs 28%, P = 0.004). Of those reporting previous STI testing, 29% reported ever being diagnosed with an STI. Conclusions: The sample of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported an early age at first sex, variable condom use and low uptake of STI testing. The high prevalence of self-reported STI diagnoses indicate a need for opportunistic sexual health education and efforts designed to promote the uptake of STI screening in this group.

Additional keywords: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, condoms, regional, sexually transmitted infections, testing, youth.


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