Publication Details

MacPhail, C., Dune, T., Dillon, G., Rahman, S., Khanam, R., Jenkins, L., Britton, M., Green, B., Edwards, C. & Stevenson, A. (2017). Knowledge and attitudes to sexual health and STI testing for students at an Australian regional university: a cross-sectional study. Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association, 49 (1), 36-48.


Notifications for sexually transmitted diseases in young people in Australia are increasing. Young people are a priority population within the National Sexually Transmissible Infections Strategy, yet their knowledge of sexual health issues is limited. In the context of Health-Promoting Universities, we examined sexual health knowledge and access to care of both on and off-campus students at a regional university. In late 2012, 418 tertiary students aged 18-29 years completed an online baseline survey on their recent sexual behaviours and attitudes. In mid-2014, 956 students aged 18-31 years, of which 105 had completed the 2012 survey, completed the same or "endline" survey which also measured exposure to a university sexual health campaign. The low response rate to both the baseline and endline surveys meant only endline survey data were analysed. Two-thirds of students had been sexually active in the past 12 months. Students had positive attitudes towards condom use and STI screening. Around half reported using condoms at last sexual encounter. Students were positive about condom use, but hesitant about instigating it. STI screening was more prevalent than in the general Australian population, and largely accessed at General Practices. Screening was least likely in those with the greatest number of recent sexual partners and highest for those in de facto relationships. Students felt annual reminders or scheduled appointments would assist in ensuring STI screening. Findings showed regional university students are positive and knowledgeable about sexual health issues. Despite this, condom use is not consistent and more emphasis needs to be placed on STI transmission in this population. Students were willing to increase STI screening, and current initiatives to increase chlamydia screening in Australia are relevant to this population.