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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 107, Issue 2, pp e149–e154 | Cite as

Sexually transmitted infection testing among heterosexual Maritime Canadian university students engaging in different levels of sexual risk taking

  • Amber Cragg
  • Audrey Steenbeek
  • Mark Asbridge
  • Pantelis Andreou
  • Donald LangilleEmail author
Quantitative Research

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: Individuals aged 15–29 years have the highest rates of diagnosed sexually transmitted infection (STI), and in Canada routine STI testing is recommended for sexually active individuals under 25 years of age. Despite its being readily available to most Canadian university students, testing is not accessed by all sexually active students. This study examines correlates of STI testing among sexually active heterosexual university students. Specifically, we sought to determine: i) the lifetime incidence of STI testing overall and stratified by biological sex; ii) whether those most at risk of STI are being tested; and iii) which other characteristics are associated with ever having been tested for STI.

METHODS: A cross-sectional survey of undergraduate students at eight universities in Maritime Canada was carried out in 2012, gathering information on student demographic characteristics, sexual behaviours and use of sexual health services. We conducted a sex-stratified descriptive analysis of each covariate and of STI testing at three levels of STI risk. We then performed multiple logistic regressions to determine the factors associated with lifetime STI testing.

RESULTS: Only 34% of the study population and 51% of those at higher risk of STI acquisition had ever been tested for STI. Individuals at moderate or higher risk of STI were more likely to be tested than those at lower risk. In both sexes, older students, those who reported experiencing non-consensual sex while enrolled at university and those with more sexual health knowledge were more likely to be tested. Higher perceived risk was associated with STI testing only among females.

CONCLUSIONS: Individuals at higher risk of STI acquisition are more likely to be tested; however, STI testing rates are low in this sample. Health promotion with campaigns designed to increase general sexual health knowledge may be more effective in increasing testing when targeting younger students.

Key words

Student health services sexually transmitted diseases, bacterial reproductive health health knowledge, attitudes, practice heterosexuality 

RÉSUMÉ

OBJECTIFS: Les 15 à 29 ans ont les plus hauts taux d’infections transmissibles sexuellement (ITS) diagnostiquées, et au Canada, le dépistage systématique des ITS est recommandé aux personnes sexuellement actives de moins de 25 ans. Bien que le dépistage soit aisément accessible à la plupart des étudiants d’université canadiens, tous les étudiants sexuellement actifs ne s’en prévalent pas. Notre étude porte sur les corrélats du dépistage des ITS chez les étudiants d’université hétérosexuels sexuellement actifs. Nous avons cherché à déterminer: i) l’incidence (globale et stratifiée selon le sexe biologique) du dépistage des ITS au cours de la vie; ii) si les sujets les plus à risque de contracter des ITS se font dépister; et iii) quelles sont les autres caractéristiques associées au fait d’avoir subi un test de dépistage des ITS.

MÉTHODE: Nous avons mené en 2012 une enquête transversale auprès des étudiants de premier cycle de huit universités des provinces maritimes du Canada afin de réunir de l’information sur leur profil démographique, leurs comportements sexuels et leur recours aux services de santé sexuelle. Nous avons effectué une analyse descriptive stratifiée par sexe pour chaque covariable et pour le dépistage des ITS selon trois niveaux de risque d’ITS. Nous avons ensuite effectué plusieurs analyses de régression logistique pour déterminer les facteurs associés au dépistage des ITS au cours de la vie.

RÉSULTATS: Seulement 34 % de la population étudiée et 51 % des sujets plus à risque de contracter des ITS avaient subi un test de dépistage des ITS. Les sujets à risque modéré ou élevé de contracter des ITS étaient plus susceptibles d’avoir subi un dépistage que les sujets à faible risque. Chez les deux sexes, les étudiants plus âgés, ceux qui ont dit avoir eu des relations sexuelles non consensuelles pendant qu’ils étaient inscrits à l’université et ceux dont les connaissances en matière de santé sexuelle étaient supérieures étaient plus susceptibles d’avoir subi un dépistage. Un risque perçu plus élevé n’était associé au dépistage des ITS que chez les femmes.

CONCLUSIONS: Les personnes dont le risque de contracter des ITS est plus élevé sont aussi plus susceptibles de se faire dépister; néanmoins, les taux de dépistage des ITS sont faibles dans l’échantillon de l’étude. Les efforts de promotion de la santé, avec des campagnes conçues pour accroître les connaissances générales sur la santé sexuelle, pourraient être plus efficaces pour accroître le dépistage lorsqu’ils ciblent les étudiants les plus jeunes.

Mots clés

services de santé pour étudiants maladies sexuellement transmissibles bactériennes santé de la reproduction connaissances, attitudes, pratiques en santé hétérosexualité 

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amber Cragg
    • 1
  • Audrey Steenbeek
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mark Asbridge
    • 1
  • Pantelis Andreou
    • 1
  • Donald Langille
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Faculty of MedicineDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.School of NursingDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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