College Students Engage in 'Risky Business,'
Exposing Themselves to the
Dangers of Sexually Transmitted Diseases
06, 2003 6:56 AM
Survey Reveals Nearly Seventy-Five Percent of Sexually Active College
Students Have Unprotected Sex in College
BLUE SPRINGS, Mo., Aug. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- College students across the
country are engaging in activities that may put them at risk for
serious infectious diseases, according to a national survey released
the Society for Adolescent Medicine (SAM). According to the survey of
students living away from home, more than half (56 percent) have been
active while at college. Of these, a majority (73 percent) reported
unprotected sex, increasing the risk of contracting sexually transmitted
diseases (STD). The survey also revealed a low level of awareness of the
symptoms of hepatitis B -- a serious, potentially cancer-causing
the liver that can be prevented through a three-shot vaccination series
something more than a third of students polled did not know. To educate
nearly four million teenagers that will head off to college this fall
their parents, SAM is launching a national media awareness campaign,
includes distribution of a free college health booklet highlighting the
importance of preventing infectious diseases through vaccination.
"Hepatitis B is one of the only STDs that is vaccine-preventable,"
Dr. James Farrow, of SAM. "Parents may not have as much control over
child's life once they leave home, but they can protect them through
vaccination before the school semester begins. While routine vaccination
against hepatitis B for infants has occurred since 1991, many teens born
to this date may have been missed. We highly recommend for those teens
have not been vaccinated against hepatitis B to be caught up."
Survey Shows Risky Behaviors Increase Once Students Leave the "Nest"
Nearly all students surveyed (95 percent) agree that college
things on campus or with other students that they would never want their
parents to know about. Additionally, more than half (52 percent) admit
they would never have participated in some of these activities if they
living at home while attending college.
Furthermore, although one in five college students knows someone who
contracted an STD while attending college, 68 percent of those students
have had unprotected sex while in college do not believe they are at
contracting an STD. In fact, almost half of all sexually active students
(49 percent) have never been tested for one.
Students Put Themselves at Risk for Contracting Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B can be spread not only through sexual activity, but also
through body piercings, tattooing, sharing a razor or toothbrush, and
sports. According to survey findings, these are all common practices
college students. If a contaminated needle is unknowingly used to apply
tattoo or piercing, adolescents and young adults could put themselves at
for contracting hepatitis B. Similarly, if a teen uses a razor or
borrowed from a contaminated individual, he or she could become infected
hepatitis B. Forty percent of college students either have a tattoo or
piercing or are likely to get one before they graduate. In addition,
of college students admitted to sharing either a razor or toothbrush
roommate, partner or friend, also putting them at risk for contracting
While many students put themselves at risk for contracting hepatitis
survey results underscore that a lot of college students are not well
on how to protect themselves through vaccination. Almost all (92
the students surveyed have heard of hepatitis B; however, more than half
(52 percent) either weren't protected through vaccination or didn't know
they were protected against it.
SAM Arms Parents with Tools and Information to Protect Their
In an effort to educate parents about the ways they can protect
children before sending them off to college, SAM has developed a free
booklet written by Dr. Lawrence Neinstein, a leading specialist in
healthcare, with a commentary by Helen Johnson, parenting expert and
well-known co-author of Don't Tell Me What to Do, Just Send Money: The
Essential Parenting Guide to the College Years. The booklet includes
information on the potential health and lifestyle risks that teenagers
encounter in college, while also providing tips and advice on what
do to feel more secure and involved in their child's well being.
The health booklet entitled, The Healthy Student: A Parent's Guide
Preparing Teens for the College Years, is available electronically on
web site at
About Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is a potentially life-threatening viral liver disease.
fact, the hepatitis B virus can be 100 times more infectious than HIV in
settings. Over one million people in the United States are chronically
infected with hepatitis B. The disease is spread by contact with body
of an infected person, such as blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and
It can cause lifelong infection, cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver,
cancer, liver failure, and death.
About the Society for Adolescent Medicine
The Society for Adolescent Medicine (SAM), founded in 1968, is the
multidisciplinary professional healthcare organization in the United
exclusively committed to improving the physical and psychosocial health
well-being of adolescents. Its principal activities include the
synthesis, and dissemination of scientific and scholarly knowledge
the health needs of adolescents; professional development of students,
trainees, and practicing clinicians around adolescent health; as well as
advocating on behalf of adolescents. Advocacy efforts are supported
local, state, and national public and private efforts to develop
comprehensive, acute, chronic, and preventive health services for youth.
Society publishes and disseminates scholarly information related to
health through its peer-reviewed monthly Journal of Adolescent Health.
Contact SAM at 1.816.224.8010 or visit
This survey, conducted by Harris Interactive between April 24, 2003
May 8, 2003, was completed using an online survey among full-time
students at four-year institutions, living away from home, aged 18 to
22 years. Those surveyed included 516 students nationally. The margin of
was plus or minus 4.3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. The
survey was funded by a grant from GlaxoSmithKline.
SOURCE The Society for Adolescent Medicine