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Arch Sex Behav. 2001 Dec;30(6):575-89.

Differences in sexual risk behaviors between college students with same-sex and opposite-sex experience: results from a national survey.

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  • 1Department of Health and Social Behavior, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


The goal of this study was to identify differences in the sexual health behaviors (condom use and number of sexual partners) between college students with same-sex sexual experiences and those with only opposite-sex partners. Data from a random sample of American university students were gathered as part of the 1997 College Alcohol Study. Odds ratios were estimated for consistent condom use and multiple sex partners for students with same-sex or both-sex sexual partners compared to those with exclusively heterosexual contacts. Five percent of respondents reported ever having a same-sex partner. Significant differences in safer-sex practices were found between groups. Females with both-sex experience and males with both-sex or only same-sex experiences were more likely to report multiple recent sexual partners than their peers with only opposite-sex partners. Odds ratios of consistent condom use were lower for men with only same-sex experience than among those with only opposite-sex partners. Findings have implications for sexual health education on the college campus. Consistent condom use remains low among college students. Education programs should emphasize the importance of limiting the number of lifetime sex partners, especially among students with same-sex experiences.

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