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Young sexual minorities facing greater health, psychological risks: study

All News 14:22 July 18, 2016

SEOUL, July 18 (Yonhap) -- One out of 165 South Korean high school students had sexual contact with a person of same sex, constituting 0.6 percent of the age group, but their risk of exposure to depression or substance abuse runs up to 14 times higher than those who had sexual contact with the opposite sex, a medical research paper said Monday.

The research team from the Samsung Medical Center (SMC) gynecology and obstetrics department based their analysis of annual data collected by the Center for Disease Control & Prevention on high school students for the years 2008-2012. The findings were deduced from a survey of 373,371 high school students.

The results showed 0.6 percent of them had sexual contact with a person of same gender -- 1,360 boys and 946 girls. Another 34.2 percent answered they had sexual encounter with the opposite sex -- 67,340 boys and 60,290 girls.

Researchers focused the analysis on health dangers from same sex sexual contact by the students and concluded that risks do run higher for exposure to smoking and drinking and to substance abuse and violence.

For those with same-gender experience, their likelihood of being exposed to substance abuse was 13.54 times higher than that of their peers who had sexual contact with the opposite gender. The risks of being subjected to violence were 8.09 times higher.

The same-sex group also suffered a higher rate of depression (2.23 times), thoughts of suicide (2.75 times) and attempted suicide (4.18 times), the paper said.

"Young people in their adolescence apparently find themselves in situations of greater physical and psychological danger as they are subjected to social prejudices and biases as sexual minorities," professor Lee Dong-yoon, a participant in the research project, said. "We need to pay attention and make a broad approach to health issues of sexual minorities."

The research team said their work is the first in Asia to look into the health of teenage sexual minorities. The study was carried in the July edition of medical journal "Medicine."

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