Sex Partner Acquisition While Overseas: Results From a British National Probability Survey
January 29, 2008
The number of overseas trips made by UK residents has increased dramatically over the past 20 years. While other studies have examined the frequency of partner acquisition abroad, they have used convenience samples and therefore are not generalizable to the British general population, said researchers in the current study.
From 1999 to 2001, the authors conducted a national probability sample survey of 12,110 UK residents ages 16-44. Sociodemographic, health-related, travel, sexual behavior, and attitudinal data were collected via computer-assisted interviewing. The primary outcomes were the proportion of British residents who reported new sex partners overseas in the previous five years, the country of origin of these new sex partners, and the association between reporting a new partner while abroad with a range of demographic, behavioral, and attitudinal variables.
In all, 13.9 percent of males and 7.1 percent of females reported having new sexual partner(s) while overseas in the past five years. The proportions were significantly higher among respondents who were ages 16-24 and never married (23.0 percent of males and 17.0 percent of females). Half of those with new sex partners overseas reported their partner's origin as the United Kingdom, and over a third as another European country. Along with age and marital status, reporting new partners abroad was associated with a higher number of partners, paying for sex (among men), reporting an STD diagnosis, and HIV testing. Adjustment for sociodemographic factors attenuated the magnitude of these associations but did not remove them.
"A substantial minority of young, unmarried people form new sexual partnerships abroad, but these are typically with residents from the UK or other European countries. Those who have new partners abroad are likely to have higher-risk sexual lifestyles more generally, and to be at higher risk of [STDs]," the researchers concluded. "Greater attention should be paid to sexual health promotion for travelers abroad, especially young travelers, emphasizing the risks of new sexual relationships with compatriots as well as those from other countries in terms of [STD]/HIV acquisition and onwards transmission."
Sexually Transmitted Infections
12.02.2007; Vol. 83; No. 7: P. 517-522; C.H. Mercer, K.A. Fenton, K. Wellings, A.J. Copas, B. Erens, A.M. Johnson