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Public health

Risky sex

In Brazil, one in four men and one in 10 women first had sexual intercourse before the age of 15, known as precocious sexual activity, something more frequent among people with low education levels and low family income. “The prevalence of precocious sexual activity is rising among women of the younger generations,” observes study leader Nayara Gomes, from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE). With colleagues from the Institute of Social Medicine at Rio de Janeiro State University (UERJ), she evaluated two forms of risky sexual behavior—sexual activity before the age of 15 and not using a condom the last time sexual intercourse was engaged in—which make people most vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancies. The results were consistent with the increase in STI cases seen in recent years. After analyzing 88,531 interviews from the 2019 National Health Survey (PNS), they also found that in the 12 months prior to the survey, three out of four men and women who were married or lived in the same house did not use condoms, and nor did approximately one in five men and one in three women who did not live with their partner. “The more frequent these behaviors, the more worrying the situation is from a public health perspective,” says Gomes (Revista de Saúde Pública, June 2022).