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Young, single, sexually active women need more education about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Investigators have found that doctors and health care professionals need to spend more time talking with young women about STD risk factors, explaining the risk of unprotected sex, and promoting the use of condoms.
For the study, researchers conducted a telephone survey of 1210 women, aged 18 to 25, including students and nonstudents. The women surveyed were sexually active, unmarried, not pregnant, and heterosexual. They were asked about risky behaviors, such as binge drinking, history of vaginal sex and STDs, perceived STD risk, overall condom use, and partner-specific condom use.
The results of the study (published in Preventive Medicine, August 2003) found that nonstudents tended to be older and non-Caucasian and reported more lifetime partners and more partners over the past year, compared with students. In addition, the nonstudents were more apt to have had prior STDs. The findings also showed that both groups reported the same rates of unprotected sex within the previous 3 months, and >75% of the participants believed that they were at low risk for acquiring an STD in the next year.