Background: Few studies assess sexual behaviors of patients during the period immediately following new diagnosis of curable STI.
Methods: We studied 450 patients who reported receiving a new STI diagnosis or treatment three months earlier. Participants were part of a behavioral study within a trial of video-based STI/HIV intervention conducted in 3 STD clinics. Using multivariable logistic regression, we identified correlates of sexual abstinence until participants were treated adequately and abstinence until their partner received STI testing.
Results: Most participants reported successfully abstaining from sex until they were adequately treated (90%) and from sex with potentially-exposed partners until their partners received STI treatment (84%). Black, non-Hispanic participants were more likely than Hispanic participants to report abstinence until receipt of adequate treatment (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 5.0; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.8-13.7). Also, participants attending the initial visit because of new symptoms were more likely to report abstinence until treatment (aOR, 3.1; 95% CI, 1.3-7.6) compared to those attending because of STI contact. Finally, abstinence until treatment was more common among those who discussed risks with a potentially-exposed partner (aOR, 5.4; 95% CI, 2.3-12.7) and those who abstained from sex when drinking or using drugs (aOR, 2.7; 95% CI, 1.3-5.7) compared to those without these behaviors.
Males were more likely than females to report successfully abstaining from sex with potentially-exposed partners until their partners received STI treatment (aOR, 2.2; 95% CI, 1.2-4.1). Reporting this abstinence also differed by race/ethnicity and site. Reporting abstinence until their partner was tested was more common among those reporting having discussed the risks with a potentially-exposed partner (aOR, 3.8; 95% CI, 1.6-9.0) or telling a potentially-exposed partner to seek an STI examination (aOR, 2.8; 95% CI, 1.2-6.6).
Conclusions: Many patients successfully adopt protective behaviors after receiving a new STI diagnosis. Interventions to further strengthen behaviors for avoiding transmission of infection or reinfection among these patients are needed.