SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTION RISK MISPERCEPTION AND ITS PREDICTORS IN UNDERGRADUATES AT UNIVERSITIES IN MARITIME CANADA
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Sexually transmitted infections remain an on-going public health concern among young adults. Many young adults do not perceive their sexual behaviour as risky, perpetuating high risk behaviour and avoiding accessing STI testing. Using cross-sectional data from students at eight Maritime universities, we found that among sexually active students, 93% considered themselves at low risk of contracting STIs, yet 43% of students did not use condoms during last intercourse and 38% had more than one sexual partner in the past year. Across groups stratified by risk behaviour, perceiving STI risk as low is not modified to a great extent by actual risk in that certain characteristics are always associated with over or under-estimating risks despite risky sexual behaviours. We also determined that those who engage in less risky sexual behaviours, yet who also perceive their STI risk as low are the least likely to get STI testing. Findings from this study will provide a framework for public health and campus health promotional messages.