Sexual Behavior Among Adolescent Women at High Risk for Sexually Transmitted Infections

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BackgroundThe temporal pattern of partners and sexual encounters may be key factors in the acquisition and transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Behavior among adolescent women is of particular interest because they frequently have the highest prevalence and incidence of infection.GoalTo examine coital diary data collected during a 7-month longitudinal study of young women at high risk of STDs and to describe their sexual behaviors, with particular attention to issues of partner sequence and overlap.Study DesignA 7-month longitudinal study of young women infected with or having a sexual contact infected with Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Chlamydia trachomatis, or Trichomonas vaginalis attending the STD clinic or one of four neighborhood adolescent health clinics. Data were collected at enrollment and at 1, 3, 5, and 7-month follow-up visits. Coital diaries were kept between visits.ResultsThe average frequency of coital events was 0.94 per week. The median number of sexual partners during the follow-up period was one, and overlapping of partnerships was an uncommon occurrence. The number of days between the last coital event of a current relationship and the first encounter of a new relationship differed for those choosing a new partner (mean, 20.6 days) and those who returned to a previous partner (mean, 7.9 days;P < 0.001).ConclusionAlthough at high risk for STDs, high-risk behavior was not common among the study population. Partner choice and the behavior of these partners may be more important elements than personal high-risk behavior in accounting for the high prevalence of sexually transmitted infections among inner-city adolescent women.

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