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Conversations between lovers about STIs are important in theory but difficult in bed
Date:11/5/2013

BOSTON -- Having sex can be fun; and talking about sex can be fun. Talking about sexually transmitted infections with a sexual interest, however, is a totally different matter, according to new research from Indiana University's Center for Sexual Health Promotion.

The study, to be discussed Nov. 6. during the American Public Health Association's annual meeting, found a disconnect between the public health messages that promote STI testing as a way to prevent STIs such as HIV and chlamydia and the conversations -- or lack of them -- occurring in bedrooms.

"Talking to partners about STIs is an important conversation to have," said Margo Mullinax, lead researcher for "Talk about testing: What sexual partners discuss in relation to STI status and why." "However, findings from this study suggest public health campaigns need to promote specific messages, concrete tips and tools around sexual health conversations stratified by relationship status. Campaigns should also address STI stigma and promote messages of normalcy with regard to talking about STIs."

STIs, if untreated, can lead to a range of health problems including infertility, so a growing public health emphasis has been on preventing STIs through testing. Mullinax said little was known, however, about how STI testing figured into actual conversations between lovers, particularly among the college-age crowd that accounts for a disproportionate number of new STI cases nationwide.

She recruited 181 sexually active men and women, average age 26, to take an anonymous online questionnaire that probed the issue, looking for insights into how conversations about STIs might influence behavior and decision-making.

She described the sample as highly educated, with many participants who commented on their own work in sexual health education. More than half were in monogamous relationships. Most of the participants were white and identified themselves as heterosexual or str
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Contact: Margo Mullinax
marbmull@indiana.edu
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert  

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