See What HealthDay Can Do For You
Contact Us

Young Women Underestimate STD Risk

Survey finds many sexually active single women ignore risk factors

(HealthDay is the new name for HealthScoutNews.)

FRIDAY, Aug. 1, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Sexually active single women are at greater risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) than they may believe, says a study in the August issue of Preventive Medicine.

The study researchers say their findings show the need for doctors and other health-care professionals to spend more time talking with young women about STD risk factors, explaining the consequences of unprotected sex and promoting the use of condoms.

The researchers from Duke University Medical Center, the University of Washington and Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound conducted a phone survey of 1,210 women, aged 18 to 25. They were asked about risk behaviors such as binge drinking, history of vaginal sex and STDs, perceived STD risk, overall condom use and partner-specific condom use.

All the women surveyed were sexually active, unmarried, not pregnant and heterosexual. The survey included students and non-students.

Non-students tended to be older and non-white and reported more lifetime partners and more partners over the previous 12 months than students. The non-students were also more likely to have had prior STDs.

Both groups reported the same rates of unprotected sex within the previous three months, and more than 75 percent of all the women surveyed believed they were at low risk for acquiring an STD in the next year.

"Even though they are having unprotected sex, most young women would say they are a low risk of contracting an STD. Some don't see STDs as a big deal and are desensitized to the risk," lead author Dr. Kimberly Yarnall, associate clinical professor, department of community and family medicine at Duke, says in a news release.

"In both groups, women were less likely to use condoms as they were older, white, on birth control pills or had partners that didn't see condoms as important. In the non-student women, binge drinking was significantly associated with unprotected sex... but that was not the case with the students," Yarnall says.

It's important to recognize predictors of unprotected sex for health-care professionals to identify and counsel women who may not believe they're at high risk of contracting STDs.

"We can't assume that all women of the same age have the same risk behaviors. By pinpointing patterns involving condom use and partner type, we can then create screening questions that may alert us to this behavior. Once we identify at-risk women, we should refer them for appropriate testing, follow-up counseling and education," Yarnall says.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about STDs.

SOURCE: Duke University, news release, Aug. 1, 2003
Consumer News

HealthDay

HealthDay is the world’s largest syndicator of health news and content, and providers of custom health/medical content.

Consumer Health News

A health news feed, reviewing the latest and most topical health stories.

Professional News

A news feed for Health Care Professionals (HCPs), reviewing latest medical research and approvals.