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Burnet Institute research has found that the age when teenagers are first having sex is declining.
A Burnet survey of more than 3500 people who attended the Big Day Out music festival in Melbourne between 2009 and 2011 found that teenagers are more likely to report having sex at a younger age compared with those in their mid to late 20s.
Study participants aged 16-24 were more likely to report having sex at an early age – defined as younger than 16 – than participants in the 25-29-age range.
Researchers found that participants who had sex early were more likely to be male, living outside the major cities and less likely to be living at home with their parents.
They were more likely to have used illicit drugs and binge on alcohol more than weekly and have a better knowledge of sexually transmitted infections.
Burnet researcher Alyce Vella told The Age’s health reporter Kate Hagan that the young age at first sex combined with a decline in the age of onset of puberty made it vital to deliver comprehensive sexual health education.
She said young people need to be informed about sexual health at a younger age, before sexual debut.