Comparison of selected college students' and sexually transmitted disease clinic patients' knowledge about AIDS, risk behaviours and beliefs about condom use


Dr M K. Strader Associate Professor School of Nursing, University of Missouri at St Louis, 8001 Natural Bridge Rood St Louis Missouri 63121–4499, USA.


Selected college students and sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinic patients of the same age were compared for knowledge about AIDS, use of condoms, sexual behaviours and intentions to engage in various sexual practices The Theory of Reasoned Action model was used to elicit beliefs about condom use and significant referents who influence condom-use decision making Eighty-seven per cent of college students were sexually active. College students had significantly fewer sexual partners in a 30-day period than STD patients, but in a 6-month period the mean number of sexual partners was the same for both groups Significant difference was found in frequency of condom use for subjects with more than one partner Of the college student sample, 60% did not use condoms compared with 32% of STD patients Eighteen per cent of college students reported intention to engage in anal intercourse No STD patients reported such intention No statistical difference was found between groups on overall knowledge about AIDS both groups manifested adequate knowledge of basic AIDS-related facts Significant differences between groups were found in rank order of beliefs about using condoms as well as those referents who influenced decision making Beliefs about disease, pregnancy, worry and normative influences of sexual partner and friends had the strongest impact on college students Sexual partner and mother had a strong influence on STD patients' decision making while ‘disease’, ‘pregnancy’, ‘decreases feeling’ and ‘decreases partner's pleasure’ were among the beliefs influencing condom use