Does Partner Selection Contribute to Sex Differences in Sexually Transmitted Infection Rates Among African American Adolescents in San Francisco?

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Little is known regarding whether partner characteristics explain sex differences in sexually transmitted infection (STI) rates in nonclinic-based, school-aged African American youth.

Materials and Methods:

A random digit dial household sample of 14- to 19-year-old youth in San Francisco reported the total number, age, race, and perceived history of incarceration, gang membership, and level of sexual activity of their partners. Youth were tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia.


Female participants were more likely than male participants to have a partner who was older or had been incarcerated and less likely to have a non-African American partner. Controlling for partner number, female's odds ratio (OR) for having an STI was 1.39 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.98–1.98; P = 0.07). Controlling for partner incarceration and number of partners, the borderline sex difference was eliminated (OR = 1.07; 95% CI = 0.70–1.63).


Sex differences in STI rates among African American adolescents may be determined more by the risk of the partner than the risk of the individual.

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