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The multiple dimensions of sexual behavior as risk factor for sexually transmitted disease: the sexually experienced are not necessarily sexually active.

Authors
  • Aral, S O
  • Cates, W Jr
Type
Published Article
Journal
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Publisher
Ovid Technologies (Wolters Kluwer) - Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
Publication Date
Jan 01, 1989
Volume
16
Issue
4
Pages
173–177
Identifiers
PMID: 2595514
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Sexual behavior is a crucial risk factor for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), but no national data exist to define a true population at risk. Instead, limited information describes sexual behavior in specific population groups (adolescents, women in their twenties) only in terms of a single dimension: sexual experience. To address the multiple dimensions of sexual behavior, we analyzed data collected from a nationally representative sample of reproductive age women in the 1982 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG). We found 86% of women aged 15-44 to be sexually experienced. Teenagers are the least experienced (45% and 56% of whites and others, respectively) and the least sexually active of all reproductive women. While sexual experience increases with age, sexual activity shows a curvilinear age pattern: it increases up to age 35 and decreases slightly from age 35 to 44. Teenagers report the least consistent sexual activity (less than 25%) and the highest level of abstention (38% and 31% for whites and others, respectively) following sexual experience. These findings indicate sexual experience as a measure of sexual behavior should be further refined to provide a more accurate estimate of the population at risk for STD.

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