Sex ratio, poverty, and concurrent partnerships among men and women in the United States: a multilevel analysis

Ann Epidemiol. 2013 Nov;23(11):716-9. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2013.08.002. Epub 2013 Oct 5.


Purpose: Social and economic contextual factors may promote concurrent sexual partnerships, which can accelerate population HIV transmission and are more common among African Americans than U.S. Whites. We investigated the relationship between contextual factors and concurrency.

Methods: We analyzed past 12-month concurrency prevalence in the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth and its contextual database in relation to county sex ratio (among respondent's racial and ethnic group), percentage in poverty (among respondent's racial and ethnic group), and violent crime rate. Analyses examined counties with balanced (0.95-1.05 males/female) or low (<0.9) sex ratios.

Results: Concurrency prevalence was greater (odds ratio [OR]; 95% confidence interval [CI]) in counties with low sex ratios (OR, 1.67; 95% CI, 1.17-2.39), more poverty (OR, 1.18; 95% CI, 0.98-1.42 per 10 percentage-point increase), and higher crime rates (OR, 1.04; 95% CI, 1.00-1.09 per 1000 population/year). Notably, 99.5% of Whites and 93.7% of Hispanics, but only 7.85% of Blacks, lived in balanced sex ratio counties; about 5% of Whites, half of Hispanics, and three-fourths of Blacks resided in counties with >20% same-race poverty.

Conclusions: The dramatic Black-White differences in contextual factors in the United States and their association with sexual concurrency could contribute to the nation's profound racial disparities in HIV infection.

Keywords: African Americans; Concurrent partnerships; Epidemiology; HIV; Hispanics; Multilevel analysis; Sex ratio.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / ethnology
  • HIV Infections / transmission*
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multilevel Analysis
  • Poverty*
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Ratio*
  • Sexual Behavior / ethnology*
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data
  • Sexual Partners*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Whites / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult