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Sex Partner Selection, Social Networks, and Repeat Sexually Transmitted Infections in Young Men: A Preliminary Report

Ellen, Jonathan M. MD*; Gaydos, Charlotte DrPH; Chung, Shang-en ScM*; Willard, Nancy BA*; Lloyd, Laura V. MPH; Rietmeijer, Cornelis A. MD, PhD

Sexually Transmitted Diseases: January 2006 - Volume 33 - Issue 1 - p 18-21
doi: 10.1097/01.olq.0000187213.07551.a6

Goal: The goal of this study was to examine the risk for repeat sexually transmitted infections (STIs) associated with reducing the number of sex partners who come from within the social networks of males 13 to 25 years old in Baltimore, Maryland, and Denver, Colorado.

Study: Asymptomatic males diagnosed with chlamydia and/or gonorrhea as part of an asymptomatic chlamydia and gonorrhea male screening project were recruited and interviewed about their sexual behaviors and their perceptions of social characteristics and sexual behaviors of their sex partners. We characterized the sex partners of each participant as belonging to or not belonging to his social network. We examined whether a decrease in percentage of sex partners who were in the participant’s social network was associated with repeat infection.

Results: There were 47 participants in Baltimore and 92 in Denver. In both cities, there was a trend toward a finding that decreasing the percentage of sex partners belonging to a participant’s social network was protective for repeat STI.

Conclusion: These data suggest that interventions may need to be designed to reduce the prevalence of infection in the social networks of infected men.

A study of repeat gonorrhea or chlamydia infection among asymptomatic 13- to 25-year-old boys and men in Baltimore and Denver found, in Baltimore only, that selecting new sex partners from outside social networks reduces risk for repeat infection.

From the *Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, and the †Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland; and the ‡STD Control Program, Denver Department of Public Health, Denver, Colorado

This study was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (grant no. U30/CCU317876). In addition, the authors acknowledge the staff at the school-based health centers in Baltimore and Stewart Thomas, Stuart Cooper, and Toby LeRoux in Denver for their contribution to study implementation.

Correspondence: Jonathan M. Ellen, MD, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Park 307, 600 North Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21287. E-mail:

Received for publication December 16, 2004, and accepted June 14, 2005

© Copyright 2006 American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association