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Study: Students Will Lie for Sex

Researchers Call Questions Poor AIDS Preventatives

By E.k. Anagnostopoulos

Popular myth has it that college undergraduates will go to almost any length to have sex. But a recent study suggests that there is more than a kernel of truth in that statement.

A survey by two University of California researchers concluded that a large number of college undergraduates will lie in order to convince a partner to have sex with them.

Protection From AIDS

The study, conducted by Susan B. Cochran and Vickie M. Mays, found that many undergraduates will lie about their past sexual experiences to allay a partner's fear about AIDS. The researchers said the study undermines the notion that asking a potential sexual partner about previous sexual behavior is sufficient protection against AIDS.

"The only way you know is if your partner admits to risk factors," said Cochran, professor of medicine at California State University at Northridge. "Negative information doesn't tell you anything."

"Using partner questioning to get out of using condoms is an incorrect strategy," Cochran added.

Of the 422 undergraduates surveyed, 34 percent of the men and 10 percent of the women admitted to lying in order to get sex.

In another question, the researchers asked single, heterosexual students to assume they had had four previous sexual partners. They found that 47 percent of men and 42 percent of women said they would misrepresent their past sexual behavior to get an attractive date to have sex.

And 42 percent of men and 33 percent of women said they would not tell a steady boyfriend or girlfriend about impulsive one-night stands, even though such activities significantly increase the risk of AIDS.

Twenty percent of men and four percent of women surveyed said they would tell an inquiring partner they had taken a test for AIDS antibodies, even if they had not.

But despite the prevalence of lying partners, Cochran and Mays said 40 percent of women still think asking questions significantly reduces risk of contracting AIDS.

The study, released today in the New England Journal of Medicine, is a response to an earlier report in the Journal of the American Medical Association claiming that asking questions is an effective way to reduce the AIDS risk.

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