Background/objectives: A large percentage of sexually active adolescents have multiple sex partners and are at high risk of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Little is known about adolescents' patterns of sexual partnerships (e.g., concurrent versus serial) and how these patterns influence STD risk.
Goal of the study: To determine the frequency with which adolescents have concurrent partners during a main relationship and the association between having concurrent partners and STD risk.
Study design: Adolescents seeking care at a public STD clinic were recruited from March, 1996, to May, 1998. Demographic and behavioral data were obtained during an interviewer-administered questionnaire. Sexually transmitted disease testing and physical exams were performed by clinicians.
Results: Of those adolescents who reported having at least one main partner during the previous 6 months (n = 245), 110 (44.9%) had multiple partners, and 76 (31%) had at least one concurrent partner during a main relationship. Greater number of concurrent partners was associated with STD diagnosis/exposure after controlling for number of sex partners (OR = 1.6; 95% CI, 1.1-2.4).
Conclusions: A significant percentage of adolescents have concurrent partners during a main relationship, and having concurrent partners increases STD risk.