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Sexual behaviour in young people

Gerressu, Makeda; Stephenson, Judith M

Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases: February 2008 - Volume 21 - Issue 1 - p 37–41
doi: 10.1097/QCO.0b013e3282f3d9bd
Sexually transmitted diseases and urinary tract infections: Edited by Anton L. Pozniak

Purpose of review The purpose of this review was to synthesize major research findings in relation to young people and sexual behaviour from the period 2006–2007.

Recent findings We found several key reviews that advance knowledge in the field of young people and sexual behaviour, including observational studies, both qualitative and quantitative, and intervention studies designed to reduce sexual transmission of HIV in both developed and developing countries. Other reviews focused on same-sex behaviours, victimization within relationships, HIV infection/sexually transmitted infection in travellers, prevention of HIV/sexually transmitted infection and the determinants of sexual behaviour in young people.

Summary Powerful and consistent forces sustain gender differences in sexual behaviour. The design of interventions to reduce sexual risk behaviour should take account of these forces that help explain young people's sexual behaviour. Knowledge about the kind of interventions that reduce risk behaviour and should be implemented has improved, although the impact on health outcomes such as pregnancy and HIV/sexually transmitted infection is often uncertain. Effective school sex education needs to be part of much broader strategies to improve sexual health, and there is an urgent need for better evaluation of interventions, especially community interventions. Further longitudinal studies are needed to provide insight into the development of relationships and sexual behaviour as well as the course of acculturation.

Department of Primary Care & Population Sciences, Royal Free & University College Medical School, University College London, London, UK

Correspondence to Makeda Gerressu, Centre for Sexual Health & HIV Research, 3rd Floor, Mortimer Market Centre, off Capper Street, London WC1E 6JB, UK Tel: +08451 555 000 ext. 8941; e-mail:

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.