Sexual Risk Behavior
Margie Skeer & Matthew J. Mimiaga
Sexual risk behaviors constitute a range of sexual actions that increase individuals’ risk for bacterial and viral sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and for unintended pregnancy. Increased sexual risk results from a combination of the specific sexual behavior and the level of protective action used. Contextual factors, such as drug and alcohol use, can also influence the level of risk involved. While abstinence and autoeroticism are the only truly effective methods of preventing unintended pregnancy and STIs, various risk-reduction strategies exist. Ultimately, sexual behaviors fall on a risk continuum, which depends on the sexual behavior and the protective action employed. Sexual behaviors comprise a wide array of acts ranging from minimal contact to penetration. Abstinence from vaginal intercourse is the only completely effective method for preventing unintended pregnancy. Abstinence from oral, vaginal, and anal intercourse, as well as autoeroticism (otherwise known as masturbation)—fulfilling individual sexual ...