Document Type



Health Psychology


The public health advice to "either know your partner well, or use condoms" may have led to higher levels of risky sexual behaviour between well-acquainted individuals whose HIV status is unknown. This study assessed the extent to which college students believe that knowing their partner well eliminates the need to practice safer sex, and measured the relationship between such beliefs and the performance of necessary safer sexual practices, such as using condoms during sexual intercourse. Endorsement of beliefs that partner knowledge made safer sex unnecessary was common, and agreement with these beliefs correlated significantly and negatively with levels of AIDS preventive behaviours and behavioural intentions, especially among women. In conclusion, the public health dictum to "know your partner" has been widely internalized, and may be contributing to risky sexual behaviour. Consideration should be given to rejecting explicitly the "know your partner" advice, and to re-educating the public regarding the necessity of consistently practising safer sex with any individual whose HIV status is unknown.