International News

Canada: Teens Know Less About Sex Risks

September 12, 2003

This article is part of The Body PRO's archive. Because it contains information that may no longer be accurate, this article should only be considered a historical document.

Despite years of public health campaigns, a new study shows Canadian teenagers know less about safe sex now than they did in 1989. "We would have hoped that today, in 2003, teens would know more about [sexually transmitted] diseases. But despite all the information available, we're realizing that teens aren't necessarily assimilating it," said researcher Dr. Christian Fortin.

Coordinated by the Council of Ministers of Education, the Canadian Youth, Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Study is a broader update of a 1989 study that focused on STDs. The study questioned more than 11,000 7th, 9th and 11th grade students about sex, drugs, parents, and school.

The study revealed that teens of both genders are less likely to report having had multiple partners than teens of the recent past. More boys are postponing sexual intercourse, with about 20 percent in 9th grade and 40 percent in 11th grade reporting they have had sex at least once -- a decline of about 8 percent from 1989.

But teenagers who are having sex are having it more frequently, and are doing it with less knowledge of its dangers. About half of 11th graders were unaware that people with STDs may not have any visible symptoms. Almost one-quarter of 9th grade students said they would feel too embarrassed to see a health care provider if they thought they had an STD. And 12-16 percent of students said they did not know where teens were most likely to get condoms.

One of the most alarming findings, according to Fortin, was that half of 9th graders believed AIDS could be cured if treated early.

These responses come at a time when STD rates are highest among 15- to 24-year-olds, according to Health Canada. In 2000, girls ages 15-19 made up about 40 percent of the national chlamydia and gonorrhea infection cases reported.

Fortin said the study shows that sex education must become more of a priority in schools. "This information must be integrated into the curriculum, or else we're losing an extraordinary opportunity to do prevention," said Fortin.

Back to other news for September 12, 2003

Adapted from:
Edmonton Journal
09.10.2003; Allison Lampert

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.


The content on this page is free of advertiser influence and was produced by our editorial team. See our content and advertising policies.