Image Source: USA Today
By Nikita Skuse | @nikita_skuse
Recent results from the National Debrief Survey, published by the University of New South Wales, found that although young people are aware of the increasing rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), they still aren’t getting tested for them or wearing condoms.
The study of over 2000 young people found that around 75 per cent of sexually active Australians between 15 and 29 did not use a condom during intercourse at least once in the last year.
Many of the findings surrounding condom use were fairly similar between heterosexual and non-heterosexual youth, but when it came to STI testing, there was quite a disparity between the two.
Results found that non-heterosexual youth are getting tested for STIs much more frequently than their straight counterparts.
Over 48 per cent of queer participants in the study reported getting tested for STIs in the past year, compared to only 31 per cent of heterosexual participants.
Queer youth were also much more likely to get tested for HIV in addition to other STIs, whereas heterosexuals focused more on Gonorrhoea, Chlamydia, and Syphilis.
Natrydd Sigurthur, UniSA’s Rainbow Club president, said that queer youth are practising safer sex because sexuality is an integral part of their identities.
The first part of practising safe sex is being able to talk to about it, which is something that Natrydd says the queer community are good at.
“We’re open to discussing sex in detail because we need to,” they said.
Australia’s sex education system often fails queer youth, which means the learning has to come from within the queer community, making sex more of an open talking point.
Natrydd also said that this openness can be caused by stereotypes surrounding the queer community.
“We’re stereotyped as being hypersexual, so there’s a stronger focus on sex in general within our community,” they said.
Whatever the reason, UniSA’s Rainbow Club has been making the most of their willingness to talk about this important topic by hosting sexual health events across UniSA campuses.
Their aim is to get people using sexual health products and practising safe sex.
The ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’ stall consists of various kinds of free condoms, internal condoms, dental dams, and sexual health pamphlets for both staff and students, alongside a sex-themed baked goods stand.
Natrydd said that universities have a responsibility to educate students, as well as a duty of care.
“Healthy students are less likely to drop out, so providing services such as ours helps both students and university retention rate,” they said.
“Most people who have been at our stalls largely had no idea that dental dams, internal condoms, and non-latex condoms exist or where to get them.
“If they’d known about them beforehand, they would’ve used them.”
Natrydd said the Rainbow Club have noticed a difference in the focuses of males and females at the stalls.
“Surprisingly, men have mostly wanted to try the novelty of flavoured/scented condoms, whereas women have told us their focus is to avoid pregnancy and STIs,” they said.
“We weren’t expecting that difference.”
There have also been interesting differences between students’ preferences at different UniSA campuses, Natrydd said.
“Our cola condoms were so popular at Mawson Lakes that we ran out of them; strawberry and vanilla are a hit at City East, while City West is keen on wild berry and blueberry,” they said.
“It turns out that flavoured/scented condoms and dental dams are more appealing to use than regular ones.
“Students like free stuff and variety, so anything which helps increase safe sex is a positive outcome.”
The Rainbow Club will be continuing to bring their ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’ stall to UniSA campuses throughout the year.
They will be visiting Mawson Lakes again in August, City West in September, and Magill in November.
Free walk-in STI testing for anyone under 30 is also available at SHINE SA clinics.