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S14 Research in progress: updates from American STD association developmental award recipients
S14.3 Evaluating the internet as an STD risk environment for teens: findings from the communication, health, and teens (CH@T) study
  1. E R Buhi1,
  2. N Klinkenberger1,
  3. H Blunt1,
  4. E M Daley1,
  5. J Baldwin1,
  6. C Rietmeijer2
  1. 1University of South Florida, College of Public Health, Tampa, Florida, USA
  2. 2Colorado School of Public Health, Denver, Colorado, USA


Background The CH{at}T study aims to identify/characterise a group of teens reporting meeting sex partners online and a group reporting meeting sex partners in-person (not online) and examine the differences between the 2 groups in sexual health risks.

Methods Youth aged 13–19 years (N=273) visiting a publicly-funded clinic completed a 20-min Audio-Computer Assisted Self-Interview. Included were global sexual behaviour questions (eg, oral/vaginal/anal sex experience, number of sex partners) and specific partnership history questions, including meeting partners online/offline. Participants were also tested for chlamydia/gonorrhea. Audio-Computer Assisted Self-Interview responses were anonymously linked to teens' biological STD results. A χ2 test was performed to determine the association between meeting a sex partner online and current STD status.

Results Participants identified as female (89.4%) and heterosexual (80.7%). Nearly 9 in 10 (88.6%) reported oral, 97.8% vaginal, and 28.6% anal sex experience. Of those with biological STD data (n=267), 14.2% had a current STD infection. Of all teens, 15.4% (n=42) reported having sex with a partner originally met online (of these, > half [57.1%] met >1 partner). Compared with teens reporting only partners met in-person, teens reporting an online partner had significantly greater numbers of oral, vaginal, and anal sex partners. However, analyses indicated no association between having a current STD and reporting an online partner, χ2 (1, N=267)=0.95, p=0.34.

Conclusions Theory-driven STD prevention and sexual health promotion interventions should be tailored to meet specific needs of young people seeking partners both online and offline. Sex-seeking, dating, and social networking websites may represent important intervention contexts.

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