Background: In the UK, black Caribbean and African populations experience disproportionately high rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV. Often studies do not differentiate between these populations notwithstanding differences in STI epidemiology and sociodemographics.
Methods: Patterns of care-seeking behaviour for STIs were explored separately for black Caribbean (n = 345), black African (n = 193) and white people through a cross-sectional survey of 2824 people attending five genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics in England.
Results: Black Caribbean men were least likely to use, or try to use, their general practice surgery prior to GUM clinic attendance (16.6%). Symptomatic black Caribbean and African men were least likely to delay seeking care (30.8 and 26.3%, respectively). Symptomatic black Caribbean men faced the least provider delay in accessing care (27.3%). Black Caribbean men and women were most likely, and black African men and women least likely, to be diagnosed with an STI (49.7 and 32.0% versus 26.8 and 16.3%, respectively). Among symptomatic women, black Caribbeans and, among symptomatic men, black Africans were most likely to report abstaining from sex (46.3 and 73.1%, respectively).
Conclusions: Our analyses highlight the importance of distinguishing between black ethnic groups and the need for future studies to ensure sufficiently large samples to permit such analyses.