Sex in Australia: sexually transmissible infection and blood-borne virus history in a representative sample of adults

Aust N Z J Public Health. 2003;27(2):234-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-842x.2003.tb00814.x.


Objective: To describe the lifetime and recent history of STIs and BBV, including place of seeking treatment, in a representative sample of Australian adults.

Methods: Computer-assisted telephone interviews were completed by a representative sample of 10,173 men and 9,134 women aged 16-59 years from all States and Territories. The overall response rate was 73.1% (69.4% among men and 77.6% among women).

Results: Overall, 20.2% of men and 16.9% of women had ever been diagnosed with an STI or BBV, and 2.0% and 2.2% respectively had been diagnosed in the past year. The participant's usual general practitioner was the most common location of treatment. Sexual health clinics accounted for a small proportion of treatment locations. Predictors of recent STI or BBV diagnosis in men included homosexual or bisexual identity, a history of sex work as a worker or client, a history of injecting drugs and having more than one partner in the past year. In women, predictors included bisexual identity, history of sex work as a worker, injecting drug use, and having more than one partner in the past year. Around 40% of men and women had been tested for HIV and in homosexually identified men, 77% had been tested.

Conclusion: STIs and BBVs are common infections in Australia and care is mostly received from general practitioners. Although a variety of predictors, including homosexual or bisexual identity, injecting drug use and sex work were related to STI diagnosis, STIs were not uncommon among people without these risk factors.

Implications: General practitioners in Australia require a high level of expertise to recognise, offer testing, and manage common STIs and BBVs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Blood-Borne Pathogens*
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / epidemiology*