Partner-specific sexual behaviors among persons with both main and other partners

Fam Plann Perspect. Mar-Apr 1998;30(2):93-6.

Abstract

Context: If men and women engage in different sexual behavior with main partners than with other types of partners, then programs aimed at preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) may need to address individuals' differential risk with each partner type.

Methods: Relationship characteristics, partner risk behaviors and sexual behaviors are examined among 123 male and 106 female STD clinic patients who had both main and other partners. Individual-level comparisons are made for two types of partner pairs: main vs. other frequent (side) partners and main vs. casual partners.

Results: Among men and women with both main and side partners, the proportion who had known only their main partner for at least a year (48% of men and 41% of women) was significantly higher than the proportion who had known only their side partner for that long (2% and 9%, respectively); no other variable differed significantly by partner type. Among those with main and casual partners, both men and women were more likely to use alcohol or drugs before or during sex with main partners only (15%) than with casual partners only (1-3%). Women with main and casual partners were more likely to have oral sex only with main partners than only with casual partners (37% vs. 3%), and were more likely to use condoms only with casual partners than only with main partners (33% vs. 4%).

Conclusions: Providers need to ask individuals about their sexual behaviors with different partner types, and should tailor prevention messages to an individual's risks and reproductive intentions with each partner.

PIP: Having multiple sex partners may increase a person's chance of having sex with someone who is infected with HIV. Moreover, a person may have a certain sexual behavior with his or her primary sex partner which differs from that shared with other secondary partners. Sexually transmitted disease (STD) prevention and control programs may therefore need to address individuals' differential risk with each partner type. Relationship characteristics, partner risk behaviors, and sex behaviors were studied among 123 male and 106 female STD clinic patients who had both main and other partners. Among men and women with both main and other frequent partners, 48% of men and 41% of women had known their main partner, but not their other partners, for at least 1 year. These proportions compare to 2% of men and 9% of women who had known their other frequent partners, but not their main partner, for at least 1 year. Among those with main and casual partners, both men and women were more likely to use alcohol or drugs before or during sex with main partners only (15%) than with casual partners only (1-3%). Women with main and casual partners were more likely to have oral sex only with main partners than only with casual partners (37% vs. 3%), and were more likely to use condoms only with casual partners than only with main partners (33% vs. 4%).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Contraception Behavior / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • North Carolina
  • Risk-Taking
  • Rural Population
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sexual Partners*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / prevention & control
  • Surveys and Questionnaires