Measures of Sexual Partnerships: Lengths, Gaps,
Overlaps, and Sexually Transmitted Infection
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Vol. 34; No. 4
An important determinant in the overall transmission of sexually transmitted infections is the length of time between partnerships ("gap").
Participants were restricted to those ages 18-39 who were fluent in the English language. The analysis was limited to the 1,051 (88 percent) survey participants who reported ever engaging in vaginal, anal, or oral intercourse and reported information on gaps, lengths, and overlaps.
Fifty-nine percent of observed gaps between partnerships were less than or equal to six months; thus, the majority of participants seeking new partners find a new partner well within the infectious period of chlamydia infection, gonorrhea and syphilis (if untreated), HIV, human papillomavirus, and herpes simplex virus. The authors found this was generally true independent of gender, race, income, or education. However, gap length correlated with age.
"The observed shorter gap lengths among younger individuals reinforce the need to focus interventions on adolescents and young adults, particularly those with the potential to mix with infected individuals," the researchers concluded.
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