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Half of Med Students Think Safe Sex Counseling Irrelevant

Many practice safe sex personally but don't see relevance in stressing its importance to patients

FRIDAY, Aug. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Roughly half of U.S. medical students don't believe that counseling patients on safe sex will be highly relevant to their practice, according to an article published in the August issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Erica Frank, M.D., of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and colleagues surveyed 2,316 medical students at freshman orientation, entrance to wards and during their senior year. The researchers surveyed the importance of safe sex to the students during their own sexual activity, their views on the relevance of discussing safe sex with patients, and how often they talked about safe sex with general medicine patients.

The researchers found that practicing safe sex was a high priority for 75 percent of single, sexually active students, particularly women and black students. Overall, 55 percent of students thought counseling patients was highly relevant, though this number dropped to 41 percent of seniors. Blacks, Hispanics and sexually active singles who made safe sex a priority had higher odds of finding safe sex counseling highly relevant, the report indicates.

"Our data provide yet another piece of evidence that it is worth improving the personal health practices of medical students because it makes them more likely to counsel patients on related topics. Through increased patient counseling, improved medical student health could provide an efficient way to improve the health of entire patient populations," the authors write.

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