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Medical News

Dissolution of Primary Intimate Relationships During Incarceration and Associations With Post-Release STI/HIV Risk Behavior in a Southeastern City

January 24, 2011

Noting the scarcity of research investigating the effects of incarceration on relationships and health, the authors set out to measure how incarceration contributes to STDs and HIV by disrupting primary intimate relationships that safeguard against high-risk partnerships.

An urban North Carolina sampling of 229 men who have been incarcerated and 144 women who have had incarcerated partners was assessed. The researchers asked how often respondents experienced the end of a primary relationship at the time of their own (among men) or their partner's (among women) incarceration. The association between dissolution of relationships during incarceration and HIV/STD risk behaviors was calculated.


Seventy-two men had been incarcerated for one month or longer, and among them 31 had a primary partner (married or not married) at the time of their longest sentence. Thirty-one women had ever had a partner who was locked up for one month or longer.

Of those 62 participants who had been in a relationship at the time of a prior incarceration of one month or longer, more than 40 percent of the men and 30 percent of the women reported the relationship ended during the incarceration. Further analysis, adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics and crack/cocaine use, found the loss of a partner during incarceration was associated with nearly three times the prevalence of having two or more new partners in the four weeks before the survey (prevalence ratio: 2.8; 95 percent confidence interval 1.13-6.96).

"In this sample, incarceration disrupted substantial proportions of primary relationships, and dissolution of those relationships was associated with subsequent [STD]/HIV risk," the authors concluded. "The results highlight the need for further research to investigate the effects of incarceration on relationships and health."

Back to other news for January 2011

Adapted from:
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
01.2011; Vol. 38; No. 1: P. 43-47; Maria R. Khan; Lindy Behrend; Adaora A. Adimora; Sharon S. Weir; Caroline Tisdale; David A. Wohl

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
More on the Incarcerated and HIV

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