Individual risk perception in STI prevention

Individual risk perception in STI prevention

N. Bajos

INSERM-INED U 569, Hôpital de Bicêtre, Le Kremlin Bicêtre, France

This communication reviews different approaches used to analyse the process

of risk construction as concerns the sexual transmission of IST. Individualistic

approaches focus on understanding how individual risk representation is

constructed. Constructivist approaches consider that the process of risk

construction occurs in relation with other people and is affected by social

context. The specificities of these procedures are considered from theoretical

and methodological point of view, and by using examples taken from quantitative

and qualitative research. Zero exposure to IST risk does not exist in reality,

and people tend to reduce their risk through condom use and other prevention

strategies. Prevention campaigns should thus aim for risk reduction instead of

risk elimination. Constructivist research elucidates why some people do not

protect themselves, notably because of sexual issues, marginalization processes

and social normalisation of gender roles. It also elucidates why preventive

behaviour differs according to type of partner by showing how sexual and

preventive behaviour depends on power role relationships

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