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    As early sexual initiation is increasingly common in East Asia, we examined its relations to risky sexual practices in alcohol- and tobacco-using individuals in Taiwan and evaluated whether the associations were mediated through preceding-sex use of illicit drugs. Participants, recruited from alcohol- and tobacco-using adults aged 18 to 50 in Taipei through respondent-driven sampling (N = 1115), completed a computer-assisted self-interview covering questions on substance use and sexual experiences. In a subsample of 916 participants who had had sexual experience (median age 27), we examined the relations of early sexual initiation (< 16 years) to multiple sexual partners, casual sex, group sex, and rare condom use. Causal mediation analyses were conducted to examine whether illicit drug use preceding sex mediated these associations. Around 9.3% reported early sexual initiation and the prevalence of risky sexual practices ranged from 7% (group sex) to 47% (rare condom use). Early initiators had a higher prevalence of regular binge drinking, illicit drug use, and risky sexual practices. In the multivariable analyses, higher odds of multiple sexual partners, casual sex, and group sex were consistently associated with early sexual initiation, gender, and their interaction. Mediation through preceding-sex use of illicit drugs was found between early sexual initiation and the three risky sexual practices, with the proportions mediated ranging from 17 to 19%. Early sexual initiators were more likely to engage in risky sexual practices and preceding-sex use of illicit drugs partially explained this relationship, calling for more attention to this population's sexual health.


    Tat Leong Wu, Te-Tien Ting, Chuan-Yu Chen, Lien-Wen Su, Wei J Chen. Early sexual initiation and risky sexual practices among alcohol- and tobacco-using young adults in Taiwan: mediation analysis of preceding-sex use of illicit drugs. BMC public health. 2020 Nov 03;20(1):1647

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    PMID: 33143679

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