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Concordance Between Sexual Behavior and Sexual Identity in Street Outreach Samples of Four Racial/Ethnic Groups



Background There is a discrepancy between self-reported sexual identity and sexual behavior. The magnitude of this discrepancy is unclear, as is its variation across race/ethnicity and gender.

Goal The goal of the study was to assess the range of discrepancy in self-reported sexual identity and sexual behavior in men and women of four racial/ethnic groups.

Study Design Self-reported data on sexual identity (homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual) and sexual behavior in the past 3 months were collected from 1494 African American, Hispanic, Asian, and white men and women in public congregation places in Houston, Texas.

Results Data indicated that concordance rates between self-reported sexual identity and sexual behavior varied widely across racial/ethnic groups, with the highest rates of concordance in Asian males and females and the lowest in African American females and white males. The largest discordant category was in those self-described heterosexuals who reported partners of both genders. Breakdown of data to exclude those who reported sex trade work or illegal sources of income improved the concordance rates for African American and Hispanic subsamples.

Conclusion Data indicate the importance of designing and targeting HIV risk interventions and clinical screening, based on behavior and not reported sexual identity.

Concordance between reported actual sex partner gender in the past 3 months and sexual orientation in four racial/ethnic groups showed high rates of discordance, varying by race/ethnicity.

From the *WHO Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research, School of Public Health, University of Texas, and †The HIV Prevention Center, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Texas Southern University, Houston, Texas

Presented in part at the American Psychological Association Conference in San Francisco, August 2001.

Supported by grants from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (no. RR03045-11) and the National Center for Research Resources, National Institutes of Health.

Reprint requests: Michael W. Ross, PhD, MPH, WHO Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research, School of Public Health, University of Texas, P.O. Box 20036, Houston, TX 77225. E-mail:

Received January 17, 2002,

revised June 10, 2002, and accepted June 28, 2002.

© Copyright 2003 American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association