Background: Among adolescents and young adults, the extent that partner characteristics account for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in context of individual sexual activities and demographic characteristics is unclear.
Methods: Sexual partner characteristics, individual sexual activities, and STD diagnosis were assessed among 15 to 24-year-old STD clinic attendees from 1999 to 2002 (n = 412). We used exact logistic regression to calculate odds ratios (OR) for several sexual partner characteristics (age discordance, incarceration, STD diagnosis, other partners, alcohol problem, marijuana problem, and a calculated composite variable) adjusting for demographics and individual sexual activities, including condom use.
Results: Sexual partner characteristics associated with STD diagnosis were ≥5 years age discordance [OR = 2.6 (95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.6, 4.5)] and STD in the past year [OR = 3.4 (95% CI = 2.0, 5.7)]. Even when considering individual sexual activities, composite partner risk was associated with STD diagnosis [intermediate to low OR = 2.1 (95% CI = 1.0, 4.2) and high to low OR = 3.4 (95% CI = 1.6, 7.0)]. Composite individual sexual activities was associated with STD diagnosis when considering demographics [intermediate to low OR = 1.8 (95% CI = 1.0, 3.2), high to low OR = 2.3 (95% CI = 1.2, 4.5)], but not when also considering partner characteristics [intermediate to low OR = 1.6 (95% CI = 0.9, 2.8), high to low OR = 1.8 (95% CI = 0.8, 3.9)].
Conclusions: Among this sample of 15 to 24-year-olds, sexual partner characteristics identified individuals at increased risk of prevalent STDs and were more predictive of STDs than an individual's sexual activities.