Medical News

High-Risk Sex Partner Increases STD Risk

April 13, 2009

A partner's sexual risk behaviors were more predictive of STDs than an individual's own sexual activities, a recent study found. The researchers, from the universities of Florida and Pittsburgh, examined sexual partner characteristics, individual sexual activities, and STD diagnoses among 412 STD clinic attendees ages 15-24.

Among subjects whose partners were characterized as high-risk, half were diagnosed with an STD, compared to about 40 percent of attendees whose own behaviors were deemed high risk. Partner characteristics that were associated with an STD diagnosis were five or more years age discordance (odds ratio (OR)=2.6 [95 percent confidence interval (CI)=1.6, 4.5]) and STD diagnosis in the past year (OR=3.4 [95 percent CI=2.0, 5.7]).

"If you are choosing high-risk partners, you are much more likely to have an STD, even when we account for your condom-use patterns," said study co-author Stephanie Staras of the University of Florida. "The theory is simple: You need to have sex with someone who has an STD to get an STD. Based on the prevalence of STDs in the United States, it seems like the public may not fully understand their risk."

Health care providers often ask patients about their sexual behaviors, but some of the participants reporting very low-risk behaviors were having sex with high-risk partners, Staras said.

The full report, "Sexual Partner Characteristics and Sexually Transmitted Diseases Among Adolescents and Young Adults," was published in Sexually Transmitted Diseases (2009;36(4):232-238).

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Adapted from:
United Press International

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.


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