Behaviors changed by intervention are associated with reduced STD recurrence: the importance of context in measurement

Sex Transm Dis. 2002 Sep;29(9):520-9. doi: 10.1097/00007435-200209000-00005.


Background: Evaluations of STD/HIV interventions incorporating behavioral and biologic outcomes have not reported strong correspondence.

Goal: The goal of the study was to demonstrate that behaviors, measured comprehensively, are associated with infection and to delineate the behaviors responsible for reduced infection rates in Project SAFE (Sexual Awareness For Everyone).

Study design: Follow-up data from an intervention trial were analyzed to determine: (1) study versus control differences in complex risk behaviors and (2) the overall relationship between these behaviors and infection status (chlamydia and/or gonorrhea), with use of multiple logistic regression.

Results: Lower infection rates among 249 women who received intervention (compared with 228 controls) were explained by reduced-risk status in 5 modifiable behaviors. The 0 to 12-month logistic regression model (including sex with untreated partner [OR = 5.6], lack of mutual monogamy [OR = 2.4], unsafe sex [OR = 1.9], rapid partner turnover [OR = 2.7], and douching after sex [OR = 1.9]) correctly predicted infection status for 75.3% of participants (71.8% of infected, 76.2% of uninfected). Women in nonmutually monogamous unions who had sex with partners who were untreated or incompletely treated were 13 times more likely to be infected than those who were monogamous and avoided sex with an untreated/incompletely treated partner.

Conclusion: This intervention reduced infection rates by maintaining low-risk behaviors and changing high-risk behaviors. We elucidated the complex relationship between behavior and infection by incorporating context into variable conceptualization and considering several behaviors simultaneously.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Chlamydia Infections / epidemiology
  • Chlamydia Infections / prevention & control
  • Chlamydia trachomatis / isolation & purification
  • Female
  • Gonorrhea / epidemiology
  • Gonorrhea / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / isolation & purification
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Recurrence
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*
  • Risk-Taking
  • Safe Sex
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Sexual Partners
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / prevention & control*