These 6 Questions Might Just Predict Your STI Risk

Photographed by Jessica Nash.
This story was originally published on January 29th, 2016.

We think it's safe to say that Millennials love quizzes (us included). So it makes perfect sense that medical experts are now offering STI awareness in quiz form. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have whipped up a six-point questionnaire that's supposed to help people determine if they have a high or low risk of contracting STIs. The research-based quiz is meant to be self-administered, and the questions revolve around the quiz-taker's sexual behavior and habits. Results are scored on a scale of one to 10, with a score of 10 meaning you're most at-risk for contracting STIs. Here are the six questions: 1. Are you 25 years old or under?
2. Have you had a new sex partner, or multiple partners, in the last 90 days?
3. Do you have more than one current sex partner at the present time?
4. Have you ever been told you had, or been treated for, an STI in the past?
5. How many sex partners have you had in the last 90 days?
6. When you have sex, do you use a condom? Each question has a number of points assigned to potential answers, and higher points mean higher STI risk. For example, if you answered the first question yes, you'd get one point; if you answered no, you'd get zero. The questions about condom use and number of sexual partners can count up to three points, since these habits indicate particularly risky behavior, while the taker's age and how recently they last had sex can only count for one point. (The full scoring system isn't publicly available yet, since the researchers are still fine-tuning the quiz.) So how accurate is the test? The quiz itself has undergone years of development so that the researchers could gauge its accuracy in predicting STI risk. Most recently, they tested it with 830 women and 550 men between ages 20 and 24. These participants were all given access to an online version of the quiz, as well as an at-home STI test kit. And their findings suggest that, when it comes to women, the quiz can be pretty on-point: Women whose scores reflected a "medium risk" were twice as likely to have an STI than women whose scores were associated with a "low risk." Women with "high risk" scores were four times more likely to have an STI. The scores of the men studied, on the other hand, weren't able to predict STI status. "We are not quite sure why this is, but untruthfulness or the fact that men tend to have lower rates of STIs are possibilities," the study's lead author, Charlotte Gaydos, PhD, MH, said in a press release. She and her co-authors are already planning follow-up research to investigate these gendered results further. Of course, this quiz isn't some all-knowing, miracle STI predictor — even Dr. Gaydos acknowledged that "a tool like this might not predict every single case." For now, though, her team's promising findings could mean that women might one day have an easy, research-based way to give themselves a reality check before they get an STI. Whether or not you trust a simple quiz to tell you if you're at risk, it's not a bad idea to occasionally check in and ask yourself those six questions — they cover a lot of the common risk factors for STIs. It may not be as fun as filing out a "What car are you?" quiz, but the discomfort seems pretty worth it to us. This month, we're sharing steamy personal stories, exploring ways to have even better sex, and wading through the complicated dynamics that follow us into the bedroom. Here's to a very happy February. Check out more right here.

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