April 10, 2009

High-risk sex partner increases STD risk

People who choose a high-risk sex partner are much more likely than others to get a sexually transmitted disease, U.S. researchers said.

Researchers at the University of Florida and University of Pittsburgh examined the sexual activities, partner characteristics and STD diagnoses of 412 subjects between ages 15 to 24.

The study, published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases, said among the subjects whose partners were categorized as high-risk, half were diagnosed with an STD. By comparison, about 40 percent of the young adults whose own behaviors were labeled as high-risk were diagnosed with an STD.

If you are choosing high-risk partners, you are much more likely to have an STD, even when we account for your condom-use patterns, Stephanie Staras of the University of Florida said in a statement.

The theory is simple: You need to have sex with someone who has an STD to get an STD. Based on the prevalence of STDs in the United States, it seems like the public may not fully understand their risk.

Healthcare providers often ask patients about their sexual behaviors. However, some subjects in the study reported very low-risk behaviors but were having sex with very high-risk partners, Staras said.