Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Teenagers' Naivete Raises Risk of Acquiring an STD

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Teenagers' Naivete Raises Risk of Acquiring an STD

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS -- Adolescents have very little grasp of whether or not their sexual partners have concurrent sexual relationships, a misunderstanding that could leave them at an increased risk for contracting a sexually transmitted disease.

Interestingly, adolescent boys tend to overestimate their female partners' concurrent relationships, while girls tended to believe their male partners were more monogamous than they really were, Chavonne Lenoir said at the annual meeting of the Society for Adolescent Medicine.

"Concurrency is problematic because it's associated with an increase in the risk of STD infection as you increase the number of people with whom you interact sexually," said Ms. Lenoir of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. "It's important to look at interpartner agreement on sexual concurrency, as perceptions of this really influence one's own perception of risk."

Ms. Lenoir, a third-year doctoral student in the university's school of public health, won the 2004 Young Investigator Award for her presentation.

She examined baseline data extracted from the Perceived Risk of Sexually Transmitted Disease study, a 5-year longitudinal study conducted in Baltimore. The data were gathered in structured, face-to-face interviews with 90 adolescent heterosexual couples; 98% of the participants were black. Males were slightly older than females (mean of 19 years vs. 17 years) and had initiated sexual activity at an earlier age than females (13.2 years vs. 14 years). Females were more likely to be in school at the time of the interview (62% vs. 33% of the males).

Participants were asked whether their sexual partner had concurrent sexual relationships, and then asked to self-report their own concurrent sexual relationships. …

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