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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

AUSTRALIA: When Online Becomes Offline: Attitudes to Safer Sex Practices in Older and Younger Women Using an Australian Internet Dating Service


Sexual Health Vol. 9; No. 2: P. 152-159 (04..12) - Friday,

STI prevalence among older Australian women is increasing, the authors wrote, in part because women are finding new partners after losing a spouse to death or divorce. These women may be less likely to use condoms with their new partners and therefore at risk for STIs. Among women using an Internet dating service, the current study compared the characteristics of women age 40 and older with those ages 18-39, and it determined factors associated with protective safer sex attitudes.

By e-mail message, women who had used the Internet dating service RSVP in the previous six months were directed to a survey conducted by Family Planning New South Wales. The survey assessed demographic factors, knowledge of STIs, and attitudes about safer sex practices. Logistic regression was used to analyze factors associated with talking about STIs before sex, as well as refusing unprotected sex with a new partner.

A total of 1,788 women completed the questionnaire; of these, 62.2 percent were age 40 or older. Most (64.8 percent) said they were seeking a long-term partner. Meeting a new sex partner via the Internet was reported by 41.5 percent of respondents. Compared with younger women, those age 40 and older were significantly more likely to discuss STIs with a new partner, but they were less likely to refuse unprotected sex.

"The Internet is a useful venue for women of all ages to meet new sexual partners," the authors concluded. "Older women are vulnerable to STI acquisition through failure to use condoms with a new partner. Research is needed to determine effective interventions to increase condom use in this age group."


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