A survey of 8,800 Australian year 10 and year 12 students in 300 schools around Australia was taken in three snapshots between 1997 and 2008. It was found that with the rise of risky alcohol consumption among Australia's teenagers there is also a surge of sex “under the influence” and number of sexual partners and unsafe and unprotected intercourse. However, the awareness of HIV/AIDS remained high.
Paul Agius, from Melbourne's La Trobe University said, “Rates of alcohol consumption among secondary students have increased markedly, as has the proportion of young people engaging in sex while under the influence of alcohol and drugs… We also found that there is a marked increase in year 12 students having sex with multiple partners.”
In 1997 one in five (19.6 per cent) male year 12 students reported having sex with three or more partners in the past year. In 2008 the figure doubled to 38.2 per cent. For teenaged girls of the same age the figures rose from 12.9 per cent to 27.2 per cent. In teenaged girls more than 61 per cent reported they had had sex, compared to 44 per cent of boys.
Mr. Agius informed that Australia's rate of teenage pregnancy ranked among the highest in the developed world and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have also risen dramatically over the last decade. He added that where the awareness of HIV was persistently high, knowledge of STIs and hepatitis was not good. “It is concerning that students appear to be better informed about HIV than either STIs or hepatitis, which are more common,” he said. Condom use among young men was 71.1 per cent in 1997 and 70.9 per cent in 2008. “Although consistent condom use remains moderately high, it is of some concern that condom use has not increased since 1997 despite related increases in sexual activity ... and increased rates of sexually transmitted infections,” Mr Agius said.
The study was published in the October edition of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.