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Teenagers attending college less likely to engage in risky sexual behavior
Date:6/5/2008

Adolescents attending college six months after completing high school are significantly less likely to engage in risky sexual behavior than those who do not go to college, according to the first study to directly compare the two groups.

The University of Washington study, published in this month's issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health, also compared risky sexual behavior of teens living at home and those who established their own residences and found no significant differences between the groups, said Jennifer Bailey, a research scientist with the UW's Social Development Research Group and lead author of the paper.

"No one has compared typical teens before, because we stop being so concerned about their sexual behavior after they leave high school," said Bailey. "But it is important that we know what they are doing because late adolescence and the early 20s are the peak times for acquiring a sexually transmitted infection.

"HIV is a big risk. Chlamydia can affect fertility. The prevalence of gonorrhea and chlamydia are increasing. And some forms of human papillomavirus are related to cervical and other cancers. So it is important that we know what puts young people at risk for these sexually transmitted infections and what social structures may help protect them."

The study found that college students were more likely to always use a condom and less likely to engage in casual sex or high-risk sex than teens who did not attend a two- or four-year college.

For this study, casual sex was defined as having sex with someone not considered to be a boyfriend or girlfriend, having sex with someone they had known for less than two weeks or having more than one sexual partner in the previous month. Criteria for high-risk sex included casual sex and inconsistent condom use, as well as having sex with a man who had sex with other men or having sex with a partner who was HIV positive or who was an intravenous drug user.

Overall, the st
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Contact: Joel Schwarz
joels@u.washington.edu
206-543-2580
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert

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