Depression, sexually transmitted infection, and sexual risk behavior among young adults in the United States

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2009 Jul;163(7):644-52. doi: 10.1001/archpediatrics.2009.95.


Objective: To measure associations among depression, sexual risk behaviors, and sexually transmitted infection (STI) among white and black youth in the United States.

Design: Analysis of prospective cohort study data. Wave I of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health occurred in 1995 when participants were in grades 7 through 12. Six years later, all Wave I participants who could be located were invited to participate in Wave III and to provide a urine specimen for STI testing.

Setting: In-home interviews in the continental United States, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Participants: Population-based sample. A total of 10 783 Wave I (adolescence) and Wave III (adulthood) white and black respondents with sample weight variables. Main Exposures Chronic depression (detected at Waves I and III) and recent depression (detected at Wave III only) vs no adult depression (not detected at Wave III).

Outcome measures: Multiple sexual partners and inconsistent condom use in the past year and a current positive test result for Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, or Trichomonas vaginalis (adulthood).

Results: Recent or chronic depression in adulthood was more common for blacks (women, 19.3%; men, 11.9%) than for whites (women, 13.0%; men, 8.1%). Among all groups (white men and women, and black men and women), adult depression was associated with multiple partners but not with condom use. Among black men, depression was strongly associated with STI (recent: adjusted prevalence ratio, 2.36; 95% confidence interval, 1.26-4.43; chronic: adjusted prevalence ratio, 3.05; 95% confidence interval, 1.48-6.28); having multiple partners did not mediate associations between depression and STI.

Conclusions: Integration of mental health and STI programs for youth is warranted. Further research is needed to elucidate how depression may influence the prevalence of STI among black men.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Chronic Disease
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / ethnology
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychology, Adolescent
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Sexual Partners
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / ethnology
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / ethnology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult