Secondary students and sexual health 2008: results of the 4th national survey of Australian secondary students

Health Schools Sex differences Youth Australia
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Results of the 4th National Survey of Australian Secondary Students, HIV/AIDS and Sexual Health.

The Fourth National Survey of Secondary Students and Sexual Health involved nearly 3,000 Year 10 and Year 12 students from more than 100 secondary schools from the Government, Catholic and Independent school systems and from every jurisdiction in Australia. The key findings are arranged under the key themes of knowledge, behaviour and health.


HIV knowledge remains relatively high and comparable to the levels found in 2002.

  • There has been a marked improvement in student sexually transmissible infection (STI) knowledge between 2002 and 2008 studies. Despite this, in some areas student STI knowledge remains relatively poor.
  • Despite generally poor student knowledge of chlamydia, knowledge of this infection has nonetheless improved significantly since 2002.
  • Hepatitis A, B and C knowledge remains relatively poor, but there has nonetheless been some improvement in student knowledge regarding hepatitis B and C.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) knowledge was measured for the first time in 2008 and student knowledge of this sexually transmissible infection was very poor. In most cases more than half the sample reported being unsure of correct answers to HPV knowledge questions.
  • Cervical cancer knowledge was measured for the first time in the 2008 study and knowledge was generally poor.
  • There were no gender differences in students HIV knowledge, however young women demonstrated better knowledge generally in terms of STIs, HPV, cervical cancer and hepatitis compared with young men.
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