Latino youth in the United States are at greater risk for contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in comparison with non-Hispanic white youth.
Sexually active heterosexual Latino youth aged 16 to 22 years (N = 647) were recruited for interviews through a large health maintenance organization or community clinics.
Adjusting for gender, age, ethnic heritage, and recruitment method, woman’s consistent use of hormonal contraceptives, ambivalence about avoiding pregnancy, longer length of sexual relationship, and greater overall trust in main partner were independently associated with inconsistent condom use and engagement in a greater number of sexual intercourse acts that were unprotected by condom use. Perception that one’s main partner had potentially been unfaithful, but not one’s own sexual concurrency, was associated with consistent condom use and fewer acts of unprotected sexual intercourse. Sexually concurrent youth who engaged in inconsistent condom use with other partners were more likely to engage in inconsistent condom use and a greater number of unprotected sexual intercourse acts with main partners.
Increasing attachment between youth may be a risk factor for the transmission of STIs via normative declines in condom use. Perception that one’s partner has potentially been unfaithful may result in greater condom use. However, many Latino adolescents and young adults who engage in sexual concurrency may not take adequate steps to protect their partners from contracting STIs. Some youth may be more focused on the emotional and social repercussions of potentially revealing infidelity by advocating condom use than the physical repercussions of unsafe sex.
Among youth with health care access, perception of a partner’s potential infidelity, but not one’s own actual concurrency, was associated with consistent condom use and fewer unprotected sexual intercourse acts.
From the *Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Minneapolis, Minnesota; the †Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, California; the ‡Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland; and the §Counseling Psychology Department, University of San Francisco School of Education, San Francisco, California
The authors thank the participants in the Salud de Jovenes–Young Adult Health Research Project and the Kaiser Foundation Research Institute, which provided access to members of Kaiser Permanente; the project directors, Angela Gallegos-Castillo and Mimi Wolff; Adrian Aguilera, Janette Alvarez, Pedro Arista, Vanessa Avila, Nayeli Cerpas, Mario Garcia, Mateo Munoz, Alejandro Nuno, Diana Oliva, Saul Ramos, Raul Tejeda, and Cara Torruellas for assistance with data collection; and Seth Duncan and Cynthia de Groat for data management. Supported by grant R01AI49146 from the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (to J.M.T.).
Correspondence: Sonya S. Brady, PhD, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, 1300 South 2nd Street, Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55454. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Received for publication June 12, 2008, and accepted October 3, 2008.