Racial/ethnic differences in patterns of sexual risk behavior and rates of sexually transmitted infections among female young adults

Am J Public Health. 2013 May;103(5):903-9. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.301005. Epub 2013 Mar 14.


Objectives: We examined patterns of sexual behavior and risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in young adulthood for Black, Hispanic, and White females.

Methods: We used a nationally representative sample of 7015 female young adults from wave III of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Sexual risk items assessed behaviors occurring in the previous 6 years and past year to determine classes of sexual risk and links to STIs in young adulthood.

Results: Latent class analysis revealed 3 sexual risk classes for Black and Hispanic youths and 4 sexual risk classes for White youths. The moderate and high risk classes had the highest probabilities of risky sexual partners, inconsistent condom use, and early age of sexual initiation, which significantly increased odds for STIs compared with recent abstainers.

Conclusions: We found different classes of sexual behavior by race/ethnicity, with Black and Hispanic young women most at risk for STIs in young adulthood. Preventive efforts should target younger adolescents and focus on sexual partner behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / ethnology*
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology
  • Age Factors
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Black or African American / psychology
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data
  • Condoms / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sexual Behavior / ethnology*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data
  • Sexual Partners
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / ethnology*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / prevention & control
  • White People / psychology
  • White People / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult