Teens who cut themselves repeatedly are at greater risk for engaging in risky behavior that increases their chances for HIV infection, ScienceDaily reports (sciencedaily.com, 6/12).

Researchers from the Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center in Providence, Rhode Island, found that teens who have cut themselves more than three times had less self-restraint, used condoms less consistently and were more likely to share cutting equipment. Approximately 68 percent of the study’s volunteers ages 11 to 18 with a history of cutting reported that they were sexually active. Of frequent cutters who had an average of 19 cutting episodes, just 39 percent reported consistent condom use—nearly half that of infrequent cutters.

“This study sheds some much-needed light on the relationship between frequency of self-cutting and sexual risk, which could prove critical, given the rising rates of self-injury among adolescents,” said lead author Larry K. Brown, MD. “This study found important differences between self-cutters based on the frequency of their cutting…. Teens who cut themselves frequently should be referred for additional psychiatric evaluation to address their sexual risk behaviors and minimize their HIV risk.”