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Am J Public Health. 2013 May;103(5):903-9. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.301005. Epub 2013 Mar 14.

Racial/ethnic differences in patterns of sexual risk behavior and rates of sexually transmitted infections among female young adults.

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  • 1Consultation Center, Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.



We examined patterns of sexual behavior and risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in young adulthood for Black, Hispanic, and White females.


We used a nationally representative sample of 7015 female young adults from wave III of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Sexual risk items assessed behaviors occurring in the previous 6 years and past year to determine classes of sexual risk and links to STIs in young adulthood.


Latent class analysis revealed 3 sexual risk classes for Black and Hispanic youths and 4 sexual risk classes for White youths. The moderate and high risk classes had the highest probabilities of risky sexual partners, inconsistent condom use, and early age of sexual initiation, which significantly increased odds for STIs compared with recent abstainers.


We found different classes of sexual behavior by race/ethnicity, with Black and Hispanic young women most at risk for STIs in young adulthood. Preventive efforts should target younger adolescents and focus on sexual partner behavior.

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