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RESEARCH ARTICLE

Association between sexually transmissible infection testing, numbers of partners and talking to partners and friends about sexual health: survey of young adults

Natalie A. Hendry A B , Graham Brown A C D E , Gary W. Dowsett A D and Marina Carman A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University, 215 Franklin Street, Melbourne, Vic. 3000, Australia.

B School of Education, Faculty of Arts and Education, Deakin University, 1 Gheringhap Street, Geelong, Vic. 3220, Australia.

C Collaboration for Evidence, Research and Impact in Public Health, Curtin University, Kent Street, Bentley, Perth, WA 6102, Australia.

D Centre for Social Research in Health, University of New South Wales, High Street, Kensington, NSW 2052, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email: graham.brown@latrobe.edu.au

Sexual Health 14(4) 378-382 https://doi.org/10.1071/SH16076
Submitted: 10 May 2016  Accepted: 6 April 2017   Published: 22 June 2017

Abstract

Background: Young adults, aged 18–30 years, comprise the largest proportion of sexually transmissible infection (STI) notifications in Australia compared with other age groups. Understanding the influence of partner and friendship networks on their STI testing practices may enhance health promotion efforts to increase testing for this group. Method: Participants aged 21–30 years, living in Australia for ≥3 years, were recruited within nightlife precincts in Melbourne, Australia. They completed a survey on demographic items, sexual health attitudes, sexual health knowledge and STI testing experiences and perceptions. Responses to items related to talking to partners and friends about STI testing were allocated partner and friend communication scores. Analyses included χ2 tests of independence and independent sample t-tests. Results: Overall, 36.5% (61/167) of participants had tested for STIs in the previous 12 months. Of those who had tested for STIs, most had significantly higher numbers of sexual partners in the same period (P < 0.05), and were significantly more likely to have felt at risk of STI acquisition (P < 0.05). Significantly greater mean partner and friend communication scores were associated with higher numbers of sexual partners, feeling at risk of STIs, and testing for STIs in the previous 12 months (all P < 0.05). There were no significant differences when participants were stratified by gender or age. Conclusion: Talking to partners and friends about STI testing is associated with testing rates for young adults. Feeling at risk and increased numbers of sexual partners may be associated with the promotion of STI testing among friends and partners.

Additional keywords: communication, health promotion, sexual behaviours, sexual health, young people.


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