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Sex Health. 2005;2(4):229-36.

Sexually transmitted infections, blood-borne viruses and risk behaviour in an Australian senior high school population--the SHLiRP study.

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  • 1Canberra Sexual Health Centre, The Canberra Hospital, PO Box 11, Woden, ACT 2605, Australia.



To determine the feasibility and acceptability of screening for sexually transmitted infections and blood-borne viruses and to study the profile of sexual activity and other risk behaviours in a senior high school population.


In this descriptive study we provided sexual health education and screening to students from two senior high schools in the Australian Capital Territory. We collected behavioural data using a self-administered questionnaire. Urines and swabs were tested for Chlamydia trachomatis (Ct), Neisseria gonorrhoea (Ng), Trichomonas vaginalis (Tv) and human papilloma virus (HPV). Blood specimens were tested for hepatitis B and C, HIV, herpes simplex viruses (HSV-1 and HSV-2) and syphilis.


A total of 795 students participated (31% of the enrolled population; female to male ratio 60:40) and 67.0% were sexually active. Of 795 students, 644 (81.0%) were screened. Rates of infection were Ct 1.1% (95% CI: 0.4-2.6), HPV 11.7% (95% CI: 7.4-17.3), HSV-1 32.5% (95% CI: 28.9-36.3), HSV-2 2.4% (95% CI: 1.3-3.9), hepatitis B surface antigen 0.3% (95% CI: 0.04-1.1) and hepatitis C antibodies 0.7% (95% CI: 0.07-1.6). Only 22.3% (95% CI: 19.3-25.7) of students had immunity to hepatitis B. There were no cases of HIV, gonorrhoea, trichomoniasis or syphilis. Of the sexually active students, 49.2% (95% CI: 38.9-59.2%) reported never or only sometimes using condoms, 41.5% (95% CI: 32.2-52.3%) reported unsafe drinking, 33.3% (95% CI: 23.9-43.1%) were smokers and 1.9% (95% CI: 0.2-7.0%) reported injecting drug use.


Rates of STI and blood-borne viruses and immunity to hepatitis B were low in this population, but unsafe sex and other risk behaviours were common. We have demonstrated that STI screening, including serological testing, was well accepted in a senior high school population.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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