RURAL YOUTH: HIV/STD KNOWLEDGE LEVELS AND SOURCES OF INFORMATION Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Though it is recognised that a sound knowledge of HIV/STD transmission is insufficient on its own to ensure that young people practise safer sex, knowledge of this sort is a necessary prerequisite to safe sex behaviours. Research on the HIV/STD knowledge levels of young people has shown that, while they have high levels of HIV knowledge, they generally have little idea about the transmission of other STDs. Moreover, most of this research has been conducted with more accessible youth in large urban centres. The research reported in this paper focused on HIV/STD knowledge levels, awareness of safe and unsafe sexual practices, and the information sources accessed by 1168 young people living in small rural towns in Queensland, Tasmania and Victoria. As with mainstream youth, the participants in this study had high levels of HIV knowledge and very low levels of knowledge about the transmission of other STDs, their names and symptoms. Practical knowledge of the safety of sexual practices was good, although a number of students confused high risk practices with high risk groups. Students mainly accessed informal information sources such as parents, peers and magazines and took little advantage of more formal sources even when they were available in their towns. There were few gender differences in levels of knowledge; however, girls accessed more information sources and knew more names of STDs. The implications of these findings are discussed in relation to young people developing critical attitudes towards more informal sources, and the better use of more formal sources.

publication date

  • February 1998