'Young clean and safe?' Young people's perceptions of risk from sexually transmitted infections in regional, rural and remote Australia
This paper examines young people's perceived vulnerability to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and their efforts to create a sense of personal safety within an environment in which risks may be high and where STIs are highly stigmatised. The paper reports on findings from research involving both Indigenous and non-Indigenous 16- to 25-year-olds from remote, rural and regional Australia, including communities in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia. The study used qualitative methods, including body mapping and scenario based interviewing, to explore how young people made decisions about potential sexual partners and how STIs were understood within the context of young people's everyday social worlds. The paper has important implications for the design and implementation of sexual-health education programmes by documenting the stigmatisation of young people with STIs and the protective mechanisms peer groups employ to create perceptions of personal safety.