Figure 3-6

Self-reported knowledge of STDs among women by risk groups, 1993. Survey participants were asked to identify number of sex partners as "none," "one," "a few," or "many." SOURCE: EDK Associates, Inc. Women and sexually transmitted diseases: the dangers of denial. New York: American Medical Women's Association, 1994.

groups was dramatic: 65 percent of young women reported "almost none" or "very little" knowledge regarding STDs (Figure 3-6). Survey data suggested that women with greater knowledge and awareness of STDs are more likely to practice protective behaviors such as negotiating for condom use and seeking help from a health care professional.

A recent survey confirmed that many Americans lack sufficient knowledge of STDs (ASHA, 1995). Thirty-two percent of respondents could not name an STD other than HIV/AIDS. Of those who did identify another STD, 44 percent of respondents named syphilis; 37 percent named gonorrhea; few named any other STD. More than half of respondents believed that "all STDs except HIV/AIDS are curable," and they vastly underestimated the prevalence of STDs. Both of those beliefs (that all STDs can be cured and that STD prevalence is not high) are likely to reduce motivation to protect oneself against STDs.

It is interesting to note that adolescents surveyed had greater knowledge of some aspects of STDs than adults (ASHA, 1996). When asked about the prevalence of STDs in the population, 12 percent of the adolescent respondents versus 4 percent of adult respondents correctly stated that the number was one in five

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