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

PROVIDENCE: Miriam Hospital Conducts Sexual Behavior Study (11.08.12) Aids Weekly Plus

Researchers at Miriam Hospital’s Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine in Providence, R.I., reported that a study of the sexual behavior of first-year female college students show that students are not “hooking up” as frequently as perceived. “Hooking up” was defined as intimacy between partners who are not dating or in a romantic relationship and do not expect commitment. The researchers determined whether such casual sexual encounters were replacing traditional romantic relationships. The researchers surveyed 483 first-year female college students on their sexual behavior with hookups and romantic relationship partners during freshman year and the summer after. The survey focused on sexual behaviors, specifically oral or vaginal sex that can have health consequences, such as sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy. Before college, approximately 33 percent of incoming women reported at least one hookup, while nearly 60 percent reported sex at least once in a romantic relationship. In the first year of college, 40 percent reported sexual hookups, and fewer than one in five had a sexual hookup each month. The average number of sexual hookups per month was one to three, suggesting that for most, hookups are experimental and infrequent. More than half (56 percent) of participants had engaged in oral and/or vaginal sex with a boyfriend or romantic partner during the year. The highest rate of sexual hookups was at the beginning of the academic year (October) and the lowest was in the summer (June). Sexual hookups were more common among Caucasian students than among Asian or African-American students. The researchers suggest that the findings could be useful for university health promotion, including STD and pregnancy prevention. The article titled, “Are Hookups Replacing Romantic Relationships? A Longitudinal Study of First-Year Female College Students,” was published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health (DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.09.001).


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