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Heterosexual experiences and partnerships of urban, low-income African-American and Hispanic youth.

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School of Nursing, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02167, USA.


We have used data from a probability sample of African-American and Hispanic youth living in low-income urban household to describe their heterosexual experiences and the influence of relationships with different kinds of sexual partners (married/lived with, well known, casual) on types of intercourse (oral, anal, vaginal), condom use, and use of other birth control methods. The Generalized Estimating Equation method for data sets with multiple observations on the same subject was used to examine whether an individual's behavior differs with different kinds of partners and how behavior with a given partner is affected by experience with other relationships. Results indicate that (a) with the exception of African-American men, sexual and contraceptive behavior varied considerably with different kinds of partners; (b) heterosexual oral and anal intercourse is more common among Hispanic than African- American youth; and (c) regardless of experience with other relationships, consistent condom use as well as use of any type of contraceptive method tend to be less likely with a casual sex partner. Data regarding percentages of consistent condom use (20%-45%) and increased involvement in risky behavior associated with multiple partners further emphasize the need for interventions that enhance condom use and discourage involvement with multiple partners.


Data from a probability sample survey of 1435 low-income Black and Hispanic youth living in households in Detroit, Michigan, revealed the importance of type of sexual partner to condom use. 81.9% of respondents were sexually active. Hispanic men and women were more likely to report oral intercourse than Black men and women; Hispanic men were most likely to have practiced anal sex. Black men reported the highest number of lifetime sexual partners. Oral and anal intercourse occurred more often with a married/live-in partner than a well-known or casual partner. Use of the Generalized Estimating Equation method indicated that Black men showed the most consistency in their sexual and contraceptive behaviors across categories of sexual partners. The proportion of young adults using condoms consistently ranged from 20% with a married/live-in partner to 45% with a well-known partner. Use of other birth control methods was most likely with a married/live-in partner, while non-use of any method was most common with casual partners. Blacks were more likely than Hispanics to report condom ever-use, but less likely to have used other methods or have had unprotected sex. When pairwise comparisons for gender-ethnic subgroups were conducted, the likelihood of condom ever-use and unprotected sex did not vary among Black men with type of partner. Overall, these findings raise concerns that the behaviors of urban, low-income Black and Hispanic youth are placing them at high risk of human immunodeficiency virus and other sexually transmitted diseases.

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