Published in October in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, the report is authored by Paul Agius from La Trobe University’s Mother and Child Health Research Institute and Professor Marian Pitts, Professor Anthony Smith and Associate Professor Anne Mitchell from the University’s Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society.
It’s the only large scale representative Australian study that focuses on adolescent sexual health, knowledge and behaviour.
The findings provide a snapshot of the students’ sexual behaviour and how it has developed over a 11 year period.
Primary researcher Paul Agius says the findings confirm that teenagers need basic education which equips them to make safe sex choices.
‘The sexual behaviour and sexual health-related knowledge of young people are important areas in research, especially when we look at the adverse public health outcomes that unsafe and un-informed practice,’ Mr Agius said.
He said that Australian rates of teenage pregnancy are among the highest in the developed world, and that sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have increased considerably among young adults over the past decade.
Other findings include:
• Student knowledge of HIV/AIDS has remained high and there is an increase in student knowledge about STI’s and hepatitis.
• Although the proportion of students reporting ever having had sexual intercourse has increased over time, the increases between 2002 and 2008 were not significant. The report also showed that while rates of condom use had remained stable since 2002, there was a marked increase in the number of sexually active students reporting sex with multiple partners.
• There has been a significant increase in the number of sexual partnerships reported by students, particularly for those in year 12.
• Over the 11-year period, the proportion of students having sex with three or more partners had increased from 16 per cent to 30%
• Although not statistically significant, young women were more sexually active than young men, with 43 per cent reporting sexual intercourse in 2008, compared with 34% of males, a reverse of the trend observed in 1997 and 2002 surveys.
• Young men were more likely to report using a condom, with 74 per cent reporting using one the last time they had sex, compared with 60% for female students.
• Although the research did not include statistics on alcohol and drug use among respondents, researchers had found a rise in young people who reported being under the influence of drugs and alcohol during their most recent sexual experience.
For more information please contact:
Mother and Child Health Research
La Trobe University
324 – 328 Little Lonsdale Street
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000
ph: +61 3 8341 8533
03 9479 5353