University students' knowledge of STDs: labels, symptoms and transmission Academic Article uri icon


  • A sample of 630 Victorian university students, aged between 17 and 24, completed a questionnaire on knowledge of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Overall students demonstrated moderate levels of knowledge about the names of diseases which are transmitted by sexual contact, symptoms and medical facts and transmission modes of common STDs. However, they had more knowledge about the labels than they did about symptoms and transmission modes and were misinformed about certain clinical aspects of STDs. It was found that the different levels of knowledge varied with the type of STD. Knowledge about symptoms of transmission did not correlate with a disease's incidence or clinical aspects. Sexual experience and having an Australian born mother correlated with higher scores. This study suggests that young people do not have high levels of knowledge about common STDs they may encounter. Identification of a label is of limited personal value if there is no concurrent knowledge about disease transmission and prognosis.


  • Minichiello, V
  • Paxton, S
  • Cowling, V
  • Cross, G
  • Savage, J
  • Sculthorpe, A
  • Cairns, B

publication date

  • August 1996