Prevalence Rates of Sexually Transmitted Infections and Sexual Risk Behaviors Among African American Women Who Have Sex With Women
Historically, women who have sex with women (WSW) have been thought to be at low risk for
acquiring sexually transmitted infections (STI), presumably due to the absence of genital
mucosal contact present during vaginal-penile sex or due to the assumption that the vaginal
mucosa experiences a lesser degree of trauma during female sex than during heterosexual sex.
This assumption has been challenged and debated over the past two decades. In addition, the
sexual health risks of WSW are only beginning to be understood.
To date the majority of research regarding STI in women has occurred in heterosexuals.
National and local surveillance data that estimate the risk for STI transmission between WSW
are limited, especially among African Americans. This is a group of women that may exhibit
distinctive behavioral characteristics that may put them at higher risk for sexually
transmitted infections STI and HIV than their Caucasian counterparts. This group of women
has traditionally been reluctant to discuss their sexual orientation with physicians for
fear of being stigmatized. The burden of STIs, including HIV, experienced by this group of
women is largely unknown.
Observational Model: Case-Only, Time Perspective: Cross-Sectional
Prevalence rates of sexually transmitted infections
Leandro A Mena, MD, MPH
University of Mississippi Medical Center
United States: Institutional Review Board
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