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Self-reported sexually transmitted infections and sexual risk behaviors in the US military: How sex influences risk

  • Author(s): Stahlman, S
  • Javanbakht, M
  • Cochran, S
  • Hamilton, AB
  • Shoptaw, S
  • Gorbach, PM
  • et al.

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BACKGROUND: Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are prevalent in the US military. However, there are limited data on risk-factor differences between sexes. METHODS: We used data from the 2008 Department of Defense Survey of Health Related Behaviors among active duty military personnel to identify risk factors for self-reported STIs within the past 12 months and multiple sexual partners among sexually active unmarried service members. RESULTS: There were 10,250 active duty personnel, mostly white (59.3%) aged 21 to 25 years (42.6%). The prevalence of any reported STI in the past 12 months was 4.2% for men and 6.9% for women. One-fourth of men and 9.3% of women reported 5 or more sexual partners in the past 12 months. Binge drinking, illicit substance use, and unwanted sexual contact were associated with increased report of sexual partners among both sexes. Family/personal-life stress and psychological distress influenced number of partnerships more strongly for women than for men (Adjusted Odds Ratio [AOR]=1.58, 95% Confidence Interval [CI]=1.18-2.12 and AOR=1.41, 95% CI=1.14-1.76, respectively). After adjusting for potential confounders, we found that the report of multiple sexual partners was significantly associated with the report of an STI among men (AOR, 5.87 [95% CI, 3.70-9.31], for ≥5 partners; AOR, 2.35 [95% CI, 1.59-3.49], for 2-4 partners) and women (AOR, 4.78 [95% CI, 2.12-10.80], for ≥5 partners; AOR, 2.35 [95% CI, 1.30-4.25], for 2-4 partners). CONCLUSIONS: Factors associated with the report of increasing sexual partnerships and report of an STI differed by sex. Sex-specific intervention strategies may be most effective in mitigating the factors that influence risky sexual behaviors among military personnel. © 2014 American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association. All rights reserved.

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