Bisexual College Women at Greatest Risk for STDs

By Sullivan, Michele G. | Clinical Psychiatry News, May 2008 | Go to article overview

Bisexual College Women at Greatest Risk for STDs


Sullivan, Michele G., Clinical Psychiatry News


CHICAGO -- Bisexual college women were 60% more likely to report having a sexually transmitted disease during the past year than were their heterosexual counterparts and four times more likely to report an STD than lesbian college students, according to a study of 30,000 sexually active women.

"It's not clear whether it's the gender of their sex partners, the number of their sex partners, or the combination of these factors that increases their STD risk," Lisa L. Lindley, Dr.P.H., said at a conference on STD prevention sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "We need more research to understand the elevated sexual risk-taking of bisexual college women."

Dr. Lindley, a clinical assistant professor at the Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, drew her data from the spring 2006 National College Health Assessment, a survey of 117 postsecondary institutions, which included data on 95,000 male and female college students.

The majority of sexually active college women in the analysis were white (78%) Blacks and Hispanics constituted 10% of the sample, while students of other races and ethnicities rounded out the group. Most of the women (94%) were heterosexual; 1% described themselves as lesbians, 3% as bisexual, and 1% as unsure of their sexual orientation.

College women who reported having sex only with men during the past year had an average of two sex partners, as did those who reported having sex only with women. Women who reported sex partners of both genders during the past year had an average of five sex partners.

The college students also reported whether they had acquired an STD in the past year (HPV/genital warts, chlamydia, genital herpes, gonorrhea, and/or HIV). No significant differences were reported in the incidence of each STD based on students' sexual orientation, with the exception of HPV/genital warts. Lesbians were least likely to report having HPV/genital warts, while, compared with lesbians, heterosexual women had a fourfold increased risk, bisexual women had a sixfold increased risk, and college women who were unsure of their sexual orientation had a fivefold increased risk.

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