Study: Most young Australians are having unprotected sex

Well, it’s official, most of us are regularly participating in unprotected sex. With the super versions of STIs at our door, it is certainly time for a rethink.



A study from UNSW has discovered that most young Australians are participating in sexual intercourse sans protection.

UNSW’s National Debrief Survey found that 75% of people aged 15 to 29 who had sexual intercourse last year did so without a condom. The research discovered that 69% of respondents engaged did so with regular partners, and around a quarter (24%) did not use condoms with casual partners.

“Sexual intercourse without condoms is highly prevalent among young people,” lead author Dr Philippe Adam from UNSW’s Centre for Social Research in Health said.

“Contrary to what is often assumed, engaging in condomless sex is not related to a lack of knowledge about STIs. It is primarily due to social norms regarding the use of condoms that are only moderately supportive. In other words, not all young people think that their peers would expect them to use condoms.”

“Among respondents who ever had sex, testing for STI or HIV was found to be more frequent in females than in males (63% versus 51%),” Dr Adam said. “Similarly, the proportion of young people
tested in the past 12 months was higher in females than males (40% versus 31%).”

Dr Adam also said the gender gap that needs to be addressed, stating “Most young people (89%) had noticed sexual health promotion messages at least once in the past 12 months, but only 41% thought they were relevant to them,” Dr Adam said. “A priority group who need to be convinced to test more regularly are heterosexual young men with a high number of sex partners. They tested less frequently than their LGBTQI+ counterparts with similar numbers of sex partners. Increasing the uptake of testing for STIs will require further reducing some perceived barriers, including cost of testing, strengthening social norms regarding testing and further tailoring sexual health prevention to the needs of specific sub-groups.”

Clearly, a lack of education, or more accurately, a lack of experience, could be the reason. Using the latter as an example, I was sexually lax in that regard, until I contracted Gonorrhea in the dawn of my thirties. An awkward set of texts via a slut-shaming trip to my GP later, I believe there’s still an “it won’t happen to me mentality” afoot regarding on the good foot and doing the bad thing.

We’re victims of our own experience, which is covered by a victim complex. We’re unwilling to discuss it, as the taboo still exists. Perhaps normalisation is the best cure.


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