Assessment of Sexual Behavior, Sexual Attitudes, and Sexual Risk in Sweden (1989–2003)

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To assess changes in sexual behavior, sexual attitudes, and sexual risk related to HIV, we conducted mailed questionnaire surveys in random samples of the Swedish general population in 1989, 1994, 1997, 2000, and 2003 (total N = 13,762). Each sample consisted of 4,000–6,000 subjects aged 16–44 years, stratified by age: 16–17, 18–19, 20–24, 25–34, and 35–44 years. The overall participation rate was 63.8% (for men, 55.9%; for women, 71.9%). The prevalence of three or more sexual partners and casual sexual contacts without the use of a condom was comparatively high for men, for persons aged 16–24 years, single persons with and without a regular partner, and persons living in towns and urban areas. The prevalence of multiple sexual partners and casual sexual contacts increased significantly over time. There was a significant decrease in the proportion of participants who agreed with the statement “Sexual intercourse should only take place in a stable relationship.” Personal risk assessments related to HIV did not change significantly over time. The study shows that risky sexual behavior related to HIV/AIDS increased in the Swedish population between 1989 and 2003, and that attitudes concerning casual sexual relations became more permissive.

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