Risk Factors Associated with Self-reported Sexually Transmitted Infections among Postsecondary Students in Canada

Int J Prev Med. 2018 Jun 4;9:49. doi: 10.4103/ijpvm.IJPVM_444_17. eCollection 2018.


Background: Despite major public health efforts in addressing the burden of disease caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs), rates among young adults continue to rise in Canada. The purpose of the study was to examine the prevalence and risk factors associated with acquiring STIs among postsecondary students in Canada.

Methods: A secondary analysis of the American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment II-C Spring 2016 survey data (n = 43,780) was conducted. Sexually active participants (n = 28,831) were examined for their demographics, sexual behavior, alcohol and marijuana use, testing for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and human papillomavirus vaccination history. These factors were analyzed to help identify their possible association with acquiring an STI using logistic regression and multivariate modeling.

Results: Among the study participants, 3.88% had an STI, with the highest rates observed among females and individuals aged 21-24 years old. Multivariate logistic analysis showed that participants who engaged in anal intercourse within the past 30 days (odds ratio [OR] = 1.634; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.343-1.988), had four or more sexual partners in the last 12 months (OR = 4.223; 95% CI, 3.595-4.962), used marijuana within the past 30 days (OR = 1.641; 95% CI, 1.387-1.941), and had ever been tested for HIV (OR = 3.008; 95% CI, 2.607-3.471) had greater odds of acquiring an STI.

Conclusions: The findings of this study highlight certain high-risk behaviors that are strongly associated with acquiring an STI among postsecondary students. Thus, efforts to design and deliver relevant educational programming and health promotion initiatives for this particular population are of utmost importance.

Keywords: Behaviors; Canada; risks; sexually transmitted diseases and human immunodeficiency virus; students.