Background: Northeastern British Columbia, Canada is undergoing rapid in-migration of young, primarily male workers in response to the 'boom' in the oil/gas industries. Chlamydia rates in the region exceed the provincial average by 32 % (e.g., 294.6 cases per 100,000 persons compared with 213.3). Evidence indicates that social and structural determinants of young people's sexual health are key to consider in the design of interventions.
Objectives: To investigate how socio-cultural and structural features related to the oil/gas ‘boom’ are perceived to affect the sexual behaviour of youth in a Northeastern 'boomtown'.
Methods: The study included ethnographic fieldwork (8 weeks) and in-depth interviews with 25 youth (ages 15-25) and 14 health/social service providers.
Results: Participants identified 4 main ways in which the socio-cultural and structural conditions created by the 'boom' affect sexual behaviours, fuelling the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs): mobility of oil/gas workers; binge partying; high levels of disposable income; and gendered power dynamics.
Conclusions: The social conditions that are fostered by a resource-extraction 'boom' appear to exacerbate sexual health inequalities among youth who live and work in these rapidly urbanizing, remote locales. To meet the needs of this population, we recommend STI prevention and testing service delivery models that incorporate STI testing outreach to oil/gas workers and condom distribution. Global, national, and local STI control efforts should consider the realities and needs of similar sub-populations of young people.
- sexual behaviour
- sexually transmitted infections
- social context
- youth sexual health
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