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RESEARCH ARTICLE

First sexual experience and current sexual behaviour among older Thai men and women

Kathleen Ford A B C and Aphichat Chamratrithirong B

A School of Public Health, University of Michigan, 109 Observatory Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104, USA.

B Institute for Population and Social Research, Mahidol University, Phuttamonthon 4, Salaya, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand.

C Corresponding author. Email: kford@umich.edu

Sexual Health 6(3) 195-202 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/SH08049
Submitted: 2 July 2008  Accepted: 21 April 2009   Published: 3 August 2009

Abstract

Background: The focus of most studies of sexual behaviour has been on younger adults and adolescents, because they are perceived as having higher levels of sexual activity than older persons, and a consequently higher risk of HIV infection. Much less attention has been paid to the sexual behaviour of men and women in their forties and fifties. Using a life course framework, the objective of the present study is to examine AIDS knowledge, HIV testing and sexual risk behaviours among Thai men and women aged 40–59 years. The study also examines the influence of initial sexual experiences on later sexual behaviour. Methods: Data for the study are from the 2006 Thai National Survey of Sexual Behaviour, a national probability sample of 6048 individuals. Results: Older Thai men and women were well informed about methods of HIV transmission, but many were unaware of antiretroviral (ARV) medications. Older adults were also less accepting of HIV positive persons than were younger adults. Fewer than half of the older adults had undergone HIV testing, with testing associated with medical checkups or undertaken before operations. Reported condom use was very low with regular partners, moderate with casual partners, and high with sex workers. While the age at first sex has not changed markedly, the type of partner has changed over time. Fewer men have their first sex with a commercial partner. In general, first sex with someone with strong ties to the respondent was related to lower levels of risk behaviour in late adulthood. Conclusions: Areas of concern for AIDS prevention programs include condom use with casual partners and paid partners, knowledge of ARV, and attitudes towards persons living with AIDS.

Additional keywords: AIDS, sexuality, Thailand.


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