Objectives: Partner concurrency facilitates the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). In this study, we sought to (1) determine the correlates of concurrency among patients with a steady partner, and (2) identify correlates of condom use among patients reporting concurrent steady and non-steady partners.
Methods: Patients recruited from an STI clinic (n = 973; 48% female; 68% African-American) completed a survey that assessed demographic characteristics, substance use, sexual partnerships and sexual behaviour, including condom use. Patients reporting a steady sexual partner for 3 months or longer were included in the analyses. Those who also reported a non-steady partner in the past 3 months, in addition to a steady partner, were considered to have engaged in concurrency.
Results: Nearly two-thirds (64%) of patients reported both steady and non-steady partners in the past 3 months. Steady/non-steady concurrency was associated with being male, not cohabitating with a partner, use of alcohol and other drugs, and thinking their steady partner was monogamous. Patients with steady and non-steady partners reported that they seldom used condoms consistently with steady (5%) or non-steady (24%) partners. Compared to patients who did not report concurrency, patients who reported steady/non-steady concurrency reported more episodes of unprotected sex in the past 3 months. Among patients reporting concurrency, consistent condom use with non-steady partners was more likely among individuals who (a) used less alcohol and (b) thought that their steady partner was non-monogamous.
Conclusions: To reduce risk for HIV and other STIs, behavioural interventions need to address partner concurrency and its correlates, including alcohol and other drug use.
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Funding: This research was supported by NIH grant No R01-MH06817 to MPC. The study sponsor had no role in the study design, the collection, analysis, or interpretation of data, the writing of the manuscript or the decision to submit the manuscript for publication.
Competing interests: None.
Contributors: All authors contributed to the conception and design of the study. TES and MPC were responsible for data analysis, interpretation of data and drafting of the article. PAV, PC-D and MU critically revised the manuscript. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript. Everyone meeting criteria for authorship has been included as an author. MPC accepts full responsibility for the conduct of the study, had access to the data and controlled the decision to publish.