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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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.


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.


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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