Background: Compared to non-Indigenous Australians, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have higher rates of sexually transmitted infections (STI). We sought to identify the sexual risk and health care seeking behaviours service utilisation of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in a regional Australian setting.
Methods: Cross-sectional survey of 155 young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (16 to 24 years) in Townsville.
Results: Most participants (83%) reported ever having had sex with a median age of 15 years at first sex, ranging from 9 to 22 years. While young men reported more sexual partners in the last 12 months than young women, they were also more likely to report condom use at last casual sex (92% vs. 68%, p=0.006). Young women were significantly more likely than young men to report never carrying condoms (35% vs. 16%) however more likely to have had STI testing (53% vs. 28%, p=0.004). Of those reporting previous STI testing 29% reported ever being diagnosed with an STI.
Conclusions: Our sample of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported an early age at first sex, variable condom use, and low uptake of STI testing. The high prevalence of self-reported STI diagnoses indicate a need for opportunistic sexual health education and efforts designed to promote the uptake of STI screening in this group.
Keywords: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, young people, risk behaviour, sexually transmitted infections, regional