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Sex Health. 2013 Mar;10(1):64-73. doi: 10.1071/SH12104.

Sexual behaviour and sexual health of Australian prisoners.

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The Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.



To describe prisoners' sexual experiences and sexual practices while in the community, sexual identities, and sexual health (e.g. self-reported exposure to sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and female reproductive outcomes) using data from the Sexual Health and Attitudes of Australian Prisoners (SHAAP) survey.


This study used a computer-assisted telephone interview to screen randomly selected prisoners using a questionnaire based on the Australian Study of Health and Relationships survey.


2351 men and women prisoners from New South Wales and Queensland took part in the survey. Most men identified as heterosexual (95.7%) and reported sexual attraction (91.0%) and sexual experiences (86.6%) only with the opposite sex, but 28.5% of women prisoners identified as bisexual. Sexual attraction correlated with sexual experience (men: r=0.63; women: r=0.84) more than with sexual identity (men: r=0.53; women: r=0.54). Male prisoners reported more lifetime opposite-sex partners than women prisoners (median 24 v. 10). Women prisoners were more likely than men to report a prior STI (35.1% v. 20.0%).


Prisoners are a high-risk group with regard to sexual health. There is a need for a better understanding of the sexual health of this population group so that education campaigns and interventions specific to this population group can be developed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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