Many people feel that they are at a low risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) because they trust their current sexual partners, according to a new survey reported by Reuters ( 6/25).

Researchers at the University of British Columbia surveyed 317 men and women at an STI clinic. All were visiting the clinic for the first time and had not yet been diagnosed with any STIs.

Researchers found that people often mistook subjective qualities as indicators that their partners would put them at low risk. For example, more than 70 percent of patients said they would probably consider a partner “safe” if he or she were generally trustworthy.

“Developing interventions that target assumptions of safety and dispel incorrect beliefs about the selection of safe partners is needed to promote safer sexual behavior,” the researchers conclude.