People More Afraid of Dying from Unprotected Sex Than a Road Trip

by Dr. Trupti Shirole on Nov 18 2015 4:32 PM

 People More Afraid of Dying from Unprotected Sex Than a Road Trip
More people are afraid of dying from unprotected sex than a 480-km road trip via car, revealed a new study by University of Michigan. The study found that stigmatization of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) has resulted in people being disproportionately terrified of having unprotected sex.
Terri D Conley, associate professor of psychology, from the University of Michigan said, "Risky behavior related to sex is judged more harshly than other comparable health risks including car driving."

The study participants stated a 7.1% chance of dying from one unprotected sexual encounter compared with a 0.4% chance of dying in a car accident on a 300-mile (480-km) road trip. The study noted that it is roughly 17 times as high.

In three separate studies, the researchers examined the extent to which STIs and sexual behavior were perceived negatively compared to objectively riskier behaviors.

In the first study, subjects estimated the risk of death as a result of contracting HIV from one instance of unprotected sex relative to the risk of death as a result of an automobile accident (a 480-km drive). In the second study, participants read one of two vignettes, in which a target either unknowingly transmitted an STI (chlamydia) or a nonsexual disease (H1N1) to another person through a sexual encounter. In the third study, subjects read one of 12 vignettes; the type of disease (chlamydia or H1N1), severity of the disease outcome (mild, moderate, or severe), and sex of transmitter (female or male) were manipulated.

The researchers concluded that the stigmatization of STIs is beyond the degree of severity (relative to other diseases) and viewed as unjustifiably risky (relative to other risky activities like driving).

The findings appeared in the International Journal of Sexual Health.