Development of a Multi-Item Scale to Quantitatively Assess Sexual Behaviors and the Transmission of High- and Low-Risk Human Papillomaviruses

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Abstract

Background:

Epidemiologic research is frequently hindered by the inherent difficulty in quantifying the risk of sexually transmitted disease (STD) acquisition associated with individual patterns of sexual behavior.

Goal of the Study:

To develop a quantitative sexual behavior risk scale and demonstrate its predictive validity in an assessment of risk factors for incident infection with human papillomaviruses (HPVs).

Study Design:

Data from a prospective study of HPV infection in female university students was used to generate quantitative multi-item sexual behavior scales which were used in Cox regression analyses.

Results:

Although risk was incurred both in casual sexual encounters and in noncasual relationships, risk in these contexts were only weakly correlated. The construction of separate measurement scales was performed.

Conclusions:

Improved precision of measurement of STD risk demonstrated that significant risk was associated with different patterns of sexual behavior and was incurred in both casual and/or noncasual relationships. Scores on the sexual behavior risk scales were highly predictive of incident infection with HPV types of both high and low oncogenic potential.

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