The profile of young adults at high risk for STIs



Recent research has shown that risk behaviours often cluster together in young adults. The same person may engage in reckless behaviour in their sexual, social and sports activities.

Starting from this premise, Marie-Aude Boislard, a researcher in the Department of Sexology at the Université du Québec à Montréal, wanted to better define the profiles of individuals who adopt risky practices and examine the consequences, particularly with regard to screening and diagnosis in cases of sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBI).

The same person may engage in reckless behaviour in their sexual, social and sports activities.

Together with her colleagues Joanne Otis, Jean-Sébastien Fallu and Linda Paquette, the researcher developed a questionnaire that was answered by more than 600 young heterosexual adults between the ages of 18 and 29. This study revealed four risk-taking profiles: about one-third (34.7%) of respondents were at low risk because they were in a monogamous relationship and almost four out of ten (42.3%) were considered to be at medium risk; at the ends of the spectrum, 13.5% of the young adults were at no risk because they were sexually inactive and used drugs very little or not at all, and 9.5% of respondents were at high risk.

In the latter group, heavy drug or alcohol use was among the factors that increased risk, in addition to more marginal sexual behaviours and multiple partners. These individuals were more likely to report drug and alcohol dependence problems and a strong tendency to seek thrills.

Understanding the profile of individuals at high risk of STBBI will make it possible to reach them more effectively by enabling the development of screening strategies that better correspond to their personality and practices.