Knowledge about and experience of sexually transmissible infections in a representative sample of adults: the Second Australian Study of Health and Relationships

Sex Health. 2014 Nov;11(5):481-94. doi: 10.1071/SH14121.


Background Sexually transmissible infections (STIs) present a substantial public health burden, and are related to modifiable sexual behaviours.

Methods: Computer-assisted telephone interviews were completed by a population-representative sample of 20 094 men and women aged 16-69 years. The overall participation rate among eligible people was 66.2%. Respondents were asked questions regarding their knowledge about, self-reported history of, and testing for STIs.

Results: STI knowledge was better in women, the young, people of higher socioeconomic status, those with a variety of indicators of being at high STI risk and those with a history of receiving sex education in school. Approximately one in six men and women reported a lifetime history of an STI. A history of STI testing in the last year was reported by ~one in six (17%) women and one in eight men (13%) and higher rates of testing in women were reported in most high-risk groups. The highest rates of STI testing (61%) and HIV testing (89%) were reported in homosexual men.

Conclusion: Knowledge of STI-related health consequences and transmission is improving in Australians, and rates of STI testing were relatively high but were higher in women than in men. Further increases in testing rates in both sexes will be required to facilitate the early diagnosis and treatment of STIs, which is a cornerstone of STI control.