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FED: Male science students are university's most likely virgins

By Danny Rose, Medical Writer
04 Dec 2008 3:47 PM

SYDNEY, Dec 4 AAP - Male science students are a university's most likely virgins while females who study arts subjects are the most sexually active, Australian researchers say.

A pilot study conducted at the University of Sydney saw 185 students, aged 16 to 25, quizzed on their sexual history and awareness of the sexually transmitted disease chlamydia.

It found arts students were "younger, more likely to be sexually active and to report having little or no knowledge of chlamydia".

"Males in the study were less likely to have had sex as a group compared to the group of females in the sample," said the study, published in the journal Sexual Health.

"Science students were also less likely to have had sex compared to their counterparts in other faculties."

Commenting on the research findings, Sydney-based psychotherapist Stephen Carroll said cultural factors would have played a role in the results, as many international students came to Australia to study science.

"Boys also start having sex later than girls," Dr Carroll said.

"And who are the people at unis that go to the rave parties and the bar? ... it's not the nerdy boy science students.

"They're carrying on doing their experiments, going to the library or doing their assignments."

More female students (78 per cent) than male (22 per cent) agreed to take part in the extensive survey.

More than half (66 per cent) of all respondents said they would be comfortable with their doctor performing a test for chlamydia, which can cause infertility in women, although they rated their personal need for a test as low.

"Findings suggest that the most at risk group for chlamydia infection is not well educated about their risk of infection," the study found.

The study was undertaken by researchers including Dr Melissa Kang, attached to the University of Sydney at Westmead Hospital, who has previously investigated Australia's rising rate of chlamydia infection.

Dr Kang found infection rates in women aged 20 to 24 quadrupled from 335 cases per 100,000 people in 1999, to 1,300 per 100,000 people last year.

Females aged 15 to 19 had the second highest rate and young men aged 20 to 24 the third.