BRFSS: STD-related Behavioral Surveillance in New York State

Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Continental Ballroom
Rosalind P. Thomas, MPH , Bureau of STD Control, New York State Department of Health, Albany, NY
Brigitte Bekan Homawoo, MD, MPH , Bureau of STD Control, New York State Department of Health, Albany, NY
F. Bruce Coles, DO , Bureau of STD Control, New York State Department of Health, Albany, NY

CDC asks state STD programs to conduct behavioral surveillance. New York is one of the few states to include state-added sexual behavior questions on the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), an annual statewide telephone survey.

To share results and use findings to plan and inform STD program activities.

The 2006 sexual behavior module was analyzed for those aged 18-34, using SAS 9.1. Along with assessing risk behaviors, the module asked: 1) ”How many people…your age do you think have had an STD?”; 2) “When you go to a doctor's office or clinic for a regular check-up… how often does the doctor take a sexual history?”; and knowledge questions, e.g.: 3) Having another STD increases your chances of being infected with HIV. Analyses by subgroup were conducted and compared to 2004-2005 trends.

Half (53%) of young adults 18-34 responded ‘Hardly Any/A Few ‘in estimating the number of people their age that have had an STD. Differences are seen by gender (Males-65%, Females-42%) and race/ethnicity (Whites 60%, African-Americans-28%, Hispanics-54%). An additional 19% responded ‘Don't Know'. For sexual history, 48% were ‘Rarely' or ‘Never' asked (Males-59%, Females-36%; Whites-55%, African-Americans-28%, Hispanics-45%). Sixty percent knew STD increases the chance of getting HIV. Risk behaviors (e.g., condom use with main/non-main partners) are consistent with national studies.

Many young adults underestimated (or were unaware of) the likely level of STDs in their age group (50% of sexually active young adults acquire an STD by the age of 25). A large number also report their providers do not take a sexual history during routine check-ups.

State level data are useful in targeting/creating messages for needed community and provider education. A “data brief” that will share key results with stakeholders is in development.
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