Predictors of Sexually Transmitted Infection in Australian Women: Evidence from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health
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This longitudinal study examined characteristics of women diagnosed with sexually transmitted infections (STI) for the first time in their later 20s and early 30s. Participants were 6,840 women (born 1973–1978) from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health. Women aged 18–23 years were surveyed in 1996 (S1), 2000 (S2), 2003 (S3), and 2006 (S4). There were 269 women reporting an STI for the first time at S3 or S4. Using two multivariable logistic regression analyses (examining 18 predictor variables), these 269 women were compared (1) with 306 women who reported an STI at S2 and (2) with 5,214 women who never reported an STI across the four surveys. Women who reported an STI for the first time at S3 or S4 were less likely to have been pregnant or had a recent Pap smear compared to women reporting an STI at S2. Women reporting a first STI at S3 or S4 were less likely to have been pregnant or had a recent Pap smear compared to women reporting an STI at S2. Women were more likely to report an STI for the first time at S3 or S4 compared to women not reporting an STI at any survey if they were younger, unpartnered, had a higher number of sexual partners, had never been pregnant, were recently divorced or separated, and reported poorer access to Women’s Health or Family Planning Centres at S2. These findings demonstrate the value of longitudinal studies of sexual health over the life course beyond adolescence.
KeywordsSexually transmitted infections Life course epidemiology Sexual health Women Australia
The research on which this article is based was conducted as part of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health at the University of Newcastle and University of Queensland. We are grateful to the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing for funding.
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