Content Map Terms

High-Risk Sexual Behaviour

British Columbia Specific Information

A sexually transmitted infection (STI) affects both men and women, and is passed from one person to another during sex or intimate contact. There are numerous ways you can protect yourself against STIs, see HealthLinkBC File #08o Preventing Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).

To learn about the different STIs, symptoms, and treatment, see the HealthLinkBC Files - Sexually Transmitted Infection Series. Further information is also available from SmartSex Resource, BC Centre for Disease Control and BC Centre for Excellence in HIV / AIDS.

If you have concerns about an STI or want additional information, speak with your health care provider, or call HealthLinkBC at 8-1-1. You can call 8-1-1 and speak to a registered nurse anonymously anytime, every day of the year.

Topic Overview

High-risk sexual behaviour puts people at risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), unplanned pregnancy, and being in a sexual relationship before being mature enough to know what makes a healthy relationship. Teens and young adults are at higher risk than adults.

Examples of high-risk sexual behaviour include:

  • Unprotected intercourse without male or female condom use.
  • Unprotected mouth-to-genital contact.
  • Starting sexual activity at a young age. The younger people are when they start having sex, the greater their risk is of getting genital herpes.
  • Having multiple sex partners.
  • Having a high-risk partner (one who has multiple sex partners or other risk factors).
  • Having unprotected anal sex or a partner who does.
  • Having sex with a partner who injects or has ever injected drugs.
  • Sex trade work.

Reasons for high-risk behaviour

People may have high-risk behaviour because they:

  • May not understand the concern about STIs and how they are transmitted.
  • May not talk about safer sex practices with sex partners.
  • Aren't prepared or don't understand how to use protective measures to prevent STIs.
  • May not be aware of symptoms of STIs.
  • May not seek medical care for STI symptoms.
  • May not have access to treatment or be able to afford treatment.
  • May use alcohol and drugs and have sex. Drugs and alcohol impair judgment and make unsafe sex more likely.

For more information, see the topic Sexually Transmitted Infections.

Credits

Current as of:
February 11, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
H. Michael O'Connor MD - Emergency Medicine