ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) — Repeating sexual intercourse after a break-up process is common among young adults – and also poses health risks.

A recent study published in the Journal of Adolescent Research finds that 44 percent of youth ages 17-24 who had been in at least a two year relationship ended up breaking up and getting back together with the same person.

Among them, 53 percent said that sex was part of their reconciliation process.

“Having sex with an ex could put people in a position of technically being broken up, but still emotionally connected,” the authors wrote in an article published in the Journal of Adolescent Research in November 2012.

“Those who stay in contact following a breakup continue to feel the pain of the breakup more intensely and may have more difficulty moving on,” the researchers wrote. “Previous research found that college students who had sex with their exes mostly described this as a ‘difficult or negative event.'”

Recent research has shown that young couples – as opposed to older or married couples – have problems moving past relationships. One recent study found that a large percentage of young adults try to maintain connections using social network’s such as Facebook to keep in touch.

And the behavior poses a serious health risk.

Previous research has shown that condom use is high at the beginning of relationships, but tends to decrease over time. Though sex with an ex may be treated as a casual encounter, exes might be less inclined to use a condom or take the safe-sex precautions they would with a less familiar partner.

“Emerging adults who reconcile may be prone to a behavior pattern that involves cycling through relationship formation,” wrote the authors. “Furthermore, having sex with an ex may be problematic because former partners can have difficulty moving on from an old relationship or building new romantic attachments.”

Today, 4 of every 10 new HIV infections occur in people younger than 30, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Using a long-standing survey of high school students’ health, the CDC tracked how teen sexual behavior has changed over 20 years. The results are decidedly mixed. About 60 percent of sexually active high school students say they used a condom the last time they had sex, researchers said Tuesday at the International AIDS Conference.

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