Sexual risk behavior of travelers who consulted a pretravel clinic

J Travel Med. 2008 Jan-Feb;15(1):6-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1708-8305.2007.00160.x.


Objective: The objective of this study was to determine to which degree travelers who received pretravel advice at a travel clinic have protected or unprotected sexual contact with a new partner and what factors influence this behavior.

Method: An anonymous questionnaire was sent to travelers who came to a pretravel clinic between June 1 and August 31, 2005. Risk factors for casual travel sex and predictors of protected sex were studied in a multivariate model.

Results: A total of 1,907 travelers were included (response rate 55%) in the study. Only 4.7% of the respondents had sexual contact with a new partner, and 63.1% of these new partners were from the country of destination. Of those who had casual travel sex, 52.4% did not expect this (women 75%), 30.9% did not always use condoms, and 41% were not protected against hepatitis B. Independent risk factors for casual travel sex were traveling without steady partner (OR 14.4), expecting casual travel sex (OR 9.2), having casual sexual contacts in the home country (OR 2.4), non-tourist journeys (OR 2.2), being male (OR 2.1), the fact that the information on sexually transmitted infections (STI) had been read (OR 2.0), and traveling to South and Central America (OR 2.0). Taking condoms along (OR 5.4) and reading the information on STI (OR 3.3) were identified as independent predictors of protected sex.

Conclusions: Travelers have substantial sexual risk behavior. Casual sex is usually not expected, and the most important predictor is traveling without a steady partner. We would advice every client of a travel clinic who will travel without a steady partner to read the STI information, to take condoms along, and to be vaccinated against hepatitis B.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Travel*
  • Unsafe Sex / statistics & numerical data*