Racial/Ethnic and Gender Differences Among Older Adults in Nonmonogamous Partnerships, Time Spent Single, and Human Immunodeficiency Virus Testing

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A higher frequency of nonmonogamy, due in part to lower marriage prevalence, may contribute to elevated human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/sexually transmitted disease rates among older blacks.


To examine race and gender differences in nonmonogamy, time spent single (i.e., not married or cohabiting), and HIV testing in older adults, we analyzed US population-based data from the 2005–2006 National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project for 2825 heterosexual participants ages 57 to 85 years.


Blacks spent greater portions of their adult lives single than did Hispanics or whites and were far more likely to report recent nonmonogamous partnerships (23.4% vs. 10.0% and 8.2%). Among individuals reporting sex in the prior 5 years, nonmonogamous partnerships were strongly associated with time spent single during the period. Control for time spent single and other covariates reduced the association of black race with nonmonogamous partnerships for men, but increased it for women. Less than 20% reported ever testing for HIV; less than 6% had been recommended testing by a provider. Testing rates, highest in black men and white women, differed little by history of nonmonogamous partnerships within gender strata.


Singlehood helps to explain higher nonmonogamous partnership rates in older black men but not in older black women. Older adults rarely receive or are recommended HIV testing, a key strategy for reducing heterosexual HIV transmission.

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