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Infez Med. 2001 Sep;9(3):147-53.

[Sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and their relationship with sexual behaviour and condom use, in a cohort of teenagers referring to a STD centre. A nine-year, prospective study].

[Article in Italian]

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  • 1Dipartimento di Medicina Clinica Specialistica e Sperimentale, Sezione di Malattie Infettive, Universit degli Studi di Bologna, Azienda Ospedaliera di Bologna, Policlinico S. Orsola-Malpighi, Bologna, Italy.


In order to assess the relationship between a diagnosis of sexually-transmitted disease (STD), sexual behaviour, condom use, and other social, demographic, and epidemiological variables in a cohort of young adults who referred to a STD centre during a 9-year period, all patients aged 13-20 years were prospectively evaluated, with special attention paid to sexual behaviour, and use of condom or other contraceptive techniques. The 284 assessed young adults represented 6.1% of all patients with a diagnosis of STD: an increasing temporal trend was noticed (from 3. % in 1991, up to 10.4% nel 1999: p<.0001). On the whole, 70.1% of subjects aged 20 years or less never used a condom during the 6 months preceding the diagnosis of STD: only 21.8% of patients reported regular condom use, and 4.9% more subjects referred occasional use, while in the remaining 3.2% of cases other contraceptive methods were employed. Among under age patients (10.6% of study population), the rate of condom use was 3.3% only, while male homosexuals always denied the use of barrier methods. Although a progressive increase in condom use was observed through the study time (from 0% encountered in 1991-1994, to 57.6% of 1999: p<.0001), this phenomenon proved linked only to the massive increase of immigrant sex workers, which occurred since 1997. When excluding from analysis any probable female prostitutes, lack of condom use tested related to the male gender (p<.05), and a low education (p<.04). Over 50% of patients reported 0-1 partners during the last 6 months, even though an increase in sexual promiscuity was observed during the last three years, compared with 1991-1996 (p<.02). Among the 297 different STD episodes (mostly nongonococcal cervicitis-vaginitis and urethritis, and HPV infection), an increasing incidence of nongonococcal STD and syphilis was found, but no correlation was observed between the spectrum of diagnosed STD, sexual behaviour, and condom use. In particular, in 69.9% of the 103 episodes nongonococcal disease occurred despite regular (65 cases), or occasional (7 episodes) condom use. Moreover, no significant relationship was disclosed between STD occurrence, condom use, and other analyzed social, demographic, epidemiological, and clinical variables. According to our survey, an increased risk of STD seems to involve young adults, and to be related to the variation of multiple demographic, epidemiological, and behavioral features. While immigration and prostitution had the major impact during the last three years, sexual promiscuity and infrequent condom use represent persistent; risk factors in this age population. Besides their diagnostic and therapeutic role, STD centres are able to carry out permanent monitoring of STD, as a starting point to plan adequate information campaigns and specific prevention strategies.

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