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Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Sexual Risk Behaviors and STDs During Young Men's Transition to Adulthood

May 13, 2011

The authors of the current study set out to investigate "the extent to which racial and ethnic differences in STDs among youth are related to differences in socioeconomic characteristics and risky sexual behaviors."


Using data from three waves of the National Survey of Adolescent Males (1988, 1990-91, and 1995), the researchers examined the STD history of 1,880 young men and their patterns and trajectories of sexual risk during adolescence and early adulthood. To test whether racial and ethnic differences in STDs are due to lower socioeconomic status and higher levels of risky sexual behavior among minority groups, multinomial and logistic regression analyses were conducted.

At each wave and across waves, young black men reported the highest rates of sexual risk and STDs. Compared to white men, black and Latino men had higher odds of maintaining high sexual risk and increasing sexual risk over time (odds ratios, 1.7-1.9). Multivariate analyses controlling for socioeconomic characteristics found black men more likely than white men to have a history of STDs (3.2-5.0). The disparities persisted in analyses controlling for level of risky sexual behavior.

"Race and ethnicity continue to differentiate young black and Latino men from their white peers in terms of STDs," the authors concluded. "Prevention programs that target different racial and ethnic subgroups of adolescent men and address both individual- and contextual-level factors are needed to curb STD incidence."

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Excerpted from:
Perspectives on Sexual & Reproductive Health
03.11; Vol. 43; No. 1; doi:10.1363/4305111; Jacinda K. Dariotis, Frangiscos Sifakis, Joseph H. Pleck, Nan M. Astone, Freya L. Sonenstein

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