OBJECTIVE--To compare sexual behaviour and HIV risk behaviour between women in three clinical settings and to investigate the effect of socio-economic status and ethnic origin upon these behaviours. SUBJECTS AND METHODS--A questionnaire was administered to 1,950 women attending clinics for genitourinary medicine (GUM) family planning and termination of pregnancy (TOP), all in inner London. RESULTS--A quarter of women attending the GUM and TOP clinics were not using any regular form of contraception. Differences in the median numbers of sexual partners in the past year (1-2) and over lifetime (4-6) between the three groups were slight. Amongst the women in all three groups: more than half (54.8-64.9%) had had a non-regular partner in the preceding twelve months; fewer than one-fifth (10.4-17.1%) reported always using condoms with their regular partners, and fewer than two-fifths (31.3-39.7%) always used them with their non-regular partners; approximately one in five women (18.6-23.9%) reported one or more major HIV risk behaviours. Some parameters of sexual behaviour were found to be influenced by socio-economic status and/or ethnic origin. CONCLUSIONS--The behaviour of women attending these three clinics is very similar. Women attending clinics for family planning or termination of pregnancy need advice on sexually transmitted diseases and HIV infection, and women attending genitourinary medicine or termination clinics need advice on contraception. Closer integration between disciplines is required to provide a comprehensive sexual health service for women.
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