Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are not uncommon among adolescents. When individuals first start experimenting with sex, they often do not possess the education, resources, and communication skills necessary to ensure safe sexual activity. This increases the risk of STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV/AIDs.
Cultural differences also elevate the risk for some young women. Research suggests that black women are at nine times the risk of chlamydia and a 20-fold risk increase for gonorrhea when compared to white women. The risk of disease is also higher for Hispanic women than white women. A better understanding of sexual patterns among different cultural groups could provide important information that may improve interventions designed at decreasing risky sexual behavior.
Jacqueline C. Pflieger of the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine in Connecticut recently led a study exploring the patterns of sexual risk taking among Black, White and Hispanic young women in an effort to improve existing prevention strategies. Pflieger looked at over 7,000 young women who were part of a larger study on adolescent health and assessed sexual behaviors in the previous six years and how they predicted STIs in adulthood.
She found that there were three specific risk classes: abstainers, high risk, and moderate risk groups. The moderate risk class represented the largest number of women, but had unique differences among ethnicities. Specifically, the white women in the moderate group engaged in various types of sexual activity and had early sexual debut but did not have as many risky partners as women from the other ethnic groups. The Hispanic women in the moderate risk group were generally monogamous, but did not regularly use condoms and had high rates of high risk partners. The black women reported using condoms more than the other groups, but only one third reported using them in the previous year when they were sexually active with known risky partners.
“Thus, engagement in risky sexual behaviors with risky partners most increased the odds of having an STI across all racial/ethnic groups,” said Pflieger. She believes that these results show the need for additional education, intervention, and access to healthcare for girls from all ethnic backgrounds. Additionally, Pfleiger believes that these efforts should begin at a younger age as many of the girls in this study were already sexually active prior to being exposed to any sexual education intervention.
Pflieger, Jacqueline C., PhD., et al. (2013). Racial/Ethnic Differences in Patterns of Sexual Risk Behavior and Rates of Sexually Transmitted Infections among Female Young Adults. American Journal of Public Health 103.5 (2013): 903-9. ProQuest.Web.
© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.