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Sex in Australia: Heterosexual experience and recent heterosexual encounters among a representative sample of adults

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 17:58 authored by Richard De VisserRichard De Visser, Anthony M A Smith, Chris E Rissel, Juliet Richters, Andrew E Grulich
Objective: To describe numbers of opposite-sex partners, experiences of different heterosexual behaviours, and recent heterosexual experiences among a representative sample of Australian adults. Methods: Computer-assisted telephone interviews were completed by a representative sample of 10,173 men and 9,134 women aged 16–59 years from all States and Territories. The response rate was 73.1% (69.4% among men and 77.6% among women). Results: Men reported more sexual partners than women over their lifetime, in the past five years and in the past year. 15.1% of men and 8.5% of women reported multiple sexual partners in the past year. Reporting multiple opposite-sex partners was significantly associated with being younger, identifying as bisexual, living in major cities, having a lower income, having a blue-collar occupation, and not being married. All but a handful of respondents' most recent heterosexual encounters involved vaginal intercourse and condoms were used in one-fifth of these sexual encounters. Anal intercourse was very uncommon during respondents' most recent heterosexual encounters. Conclusion: Patterns of heterosexual experience in Australia are similar to those found in studies of representative samples in other countries. Implications: There may be a need for interventions targeted at people with multiple sexual partners to promote safer sexual behaviour and to reduce the likelihood of transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.


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  • Published


Australian & New Zealand Journal of Public Health









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  • Psychology Publications

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