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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 4(4)

Aboriginal women’s stories of sexually transmissible infection transmission and condom use in remote central Australia

Astrid M. Stark A C, Alex Hope B

A Centre for International Health, Curtin University of Technology, Bentley, WA 6102, Australia.
B General Practitioner, Alice Springs, NT, Australia.
C Corresponding author. Email: astridmstark@gmail.com
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Background: Sexually transmissible infection (STI) rates are persistently high in central Australia, creating conditions for a potential HIV pandemic in the area. There is a shortage of qualitative research examining the underlying factors affecting STI transmission in this region. The present study investigates Aboriginal women’s current levels of knowledge regarding STI and their transmission, perception of risk for STI, patterns of condom use, access to condoms and experiences of condom negotiation with their partners. It also explores the sociocultural context of their sexual health. Methods: The present study used qualitative methods with a semistructured questionnaire. Twenty-four women aged 18–35 years from one remote central-Australian Aboriginal community were recruited. Results: The results revealed poor understandings of STI transmission, limited access to condoms and low levels of condom use despite a high perception of risk to STI. They also identified specific issues facing these women regarding the sociocultural context of their condom use, their access to condoms and the transmission of STI. The perceived effects of alcohol abuse, infidelity, sexual assault and shame on the acquisition of STI were significant issues for the women. Conclusion: This research has identified an urgent need for further qualitative research into the sociocultural factors that facilitate the spread of STI among Aboriginal people of remote central Australia. Implications include the need to increase their knowledge regarding STI and STI transmission, to increase women’s access to condoms and to incorporate the teaching of skills to deal with sexual assault and violence into sexual-health education.

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