According to a researcher from the University of Michigan, more people are afraid of dying from unprotected sex than a 480-km road trip via car.
According to Terri D Conley from the University of Michigan, risky behaviour related to sex is judged more harshly than other comparable health risks including car driving, the Atlantic reported.
The study by Conley, associate professor of psychology, found that stigmatisation of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) has resulted in people being disproportionately terrified of having unprotected sex.
The participants stated a 7.1 percent chance of dying from one unprotected sexual encounter compared with a 0.4 percent chance of dying in a car accident on a 300-mile (480-km) road trip.
That is roughly 17 times as high, the study noted.
In three separate studies, the authors examined the extent to which STIs and sexual behaviour were perceived negatively compared to objectively riskier behaviours.
In the first study, participants estimated the risk of death as a result of contracting HIV from one instance of unprotected sex relative to the risk of death as a result of an automobile accident (a 480-km drive).
In the second study, participants read one of two vignettes, in which a target either unknowingly transmitted an STI (chlamydia) or a nonsexual disease (H1N1) to another person through a sexual encounter.
In the third study, participants read one of 12 vignettes; the type of disease (chlamydia or H1N1), severity of the disease outcome (mild, moderate, or severe), and sex of transmitter (female or male) were manipulated.
For the third study, state-level public health and driving websites were coded for risk-reduction recommendations.
They concluded that the stigmatisation of STIs is beyond the degree of severity (relative to other diseases) and viewed as unjustifiably risky (relative to other risky activities like driving).
The findings appeared in the International Journal of Sexual Health.