WP 116 Characterizing Sexual Behavior and Mixing Patterns of American Adults of Different Races/Ethnicities

Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Galleria Exhibit Hall
Ashleigh Tuite, PhD MPH1, Minttu Ronn, PhD2, Emory Wolf, BSc2, Nicolas A Menzies, PhD2, Kara Galer, MPH2, Thomas Gift, PhD3, Kathy Hsu, MD, MPH4 and Joshua A Salomon, PhD2, 1Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, 2Prevention Policy Modeling Lab, Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, 3Division of STD Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, 4Division of STD Prevention and Ratelle STD/HIV Prevention Training Center of New England, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Jamaica Plain, MA

Background: Racial/ethnic disparities in sexually transmitted infection (STI) diagnosis and prevalence exist in the United States. Black Americans bear a disproportionate share of the overall STI burden; this could reflect individual risk behaviors or broader contextual factors. Characterizing sexual behavior and mixing patterns is important for modeling STI dynamics. We used national survey data to analyze self-reported sexual partnership behaviors in adults aged 15-39y, and to identify differences by race/ethnicity.

Methods: Ever sexually-active respondents in the 2011-2013 National Survey of Family Growth (n=7511) and their most recent opposite-sex sexual partner were categorized as non-Hispanic black, Hispanic, or other (including all other race/ethnicity categories), and subdivided by age (15-24y and 25-39y). We compared group differences in recent and lifetime partners and in propensity to partner with members of the same race/ethnicity or age group (i.e. to mix assortatively) using ANOVA and χ2 tests.

Results: Non-Hispanic black males reported more lifetime sexual partners and partners in the past year than Hispanic and other males (p<0.001). Hispanic females reported fewer lifetime partners than black and other females (p<0.001), while sexual partner numbers in the past year did not differ by race/ethnicity amongst females (p=0.89). Hispanic females were less likely to report a most recent sexual partner of the same race/ethnicity (63%) than black (89%) or other (86%) females (p<0.001). Black (77%) and Hispanic (72%) males were less likely to report assortative mixing by race/ethnicity than other (89%) males (p<0.001). Similar trends in racial/ethic assortativity were observed across age categories. Age-assortative mixing was more common among older females and younger males than among younger females and older males (p<0.001), and did not differ by ethnicity.

Conclusions: Self-reported sexual behaviors differ by race/ethnicity and age in the United States. This information can inform mathematical models of STI transmission and help illuminate behavioral drivers of observed disparities in STI burden.