"Partner selection is an area of STD prevention that could complement what we are already doing with promoting condom use, and could possibly really help people," Staras said. "If somehow we could convince individuals to incorporate this information in a meaningful way into their decision-making, then we could reduce STDs."
UF researchers measured five specific characteristics to gauge how risky certain partners were. These characteristics included whether the partner has a problem with marijuana or alcohol, was at least five years older or younger, had been in jail, had sex with other people in the past year or had an STD in the past year.
The researchers then created a composite, totaling up the number of negative partner characteristics for each subject and comparing them against the number of each person's own individual risky behaviors, which ranged from how often they used condoms to how many people they had sex with.
Overall, researchers found considering all of the partner characteristics together was the strongest predictor for STDs. Young adults whose partners had five or more risk characteristics were three times more likely to have an STD than those whose partners had no more than two characteristics.
Of these characteristics, the most telling were if a partner already had an STD and if a couple had an age difference of more than five years. Subjects whose partners were five years older or younger than them were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with an STD than those whose partners were around the same age, the researchers found.
"It's all about the risk of the partner and sometimes we forget that," said Richard A. Crosby, Ph.D., the DDI endowed professor and chairman of the department of health behavior at the University of Kentucky and a co-director of the Rural Center for AIDS/STD
|Contact: April Frawley Birdwell|
University of Florida