Research That Matters (January 17 - 20, 2008)
Methods: Data were derived from National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) wave I (1994-95, ages 12-18) and wave III (2001-02, ages 17-25). A nationally representative sample of White and Asian females (n=7,182) was analyzed. Self-reported STD diagnosis was recorded as response to, “Have you ever been told by a doctor or nurse that you had…” for each of the following STDs: chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, HIV/AIDS, genital herpes, genital warts, trichomoniasis, bacterial vaginosis, and nongonococcal vaginitis, HPV, and other STDs. Sexual risk behaviors considered were early sexual debut and having multiple sex partners. Chi-squared tests were used to assess group differences between White and Asian young females in wave III. After controlling for covariates, logistic regression analyses were used to estimate associations between wave I predictors and wave III STDs and sexual risk behaviors as outcomes.
Results: The prevalence of STDs among White females was 10%. Sixteen percent of white females reported early sexual debut and 26 % reported having multiple sexual partners. The prevalence of STDs among Asian females was similar to White females (10%). However, 11% of Asian females reported early sexual debut and 23 % of Asian females reported having multiple sexual partners. Using multiple logistic regression analyses, delinquency (OR: 1.04), binge drinking (OR: 2.3), parental attachment (OR: 0.96), and happiness living in neighborhood (OR: 0.80) during adolescence were significant longitudinal predictors for early sexual debut among White females during young adulthood. Higher dedication to religion during adolescence reduced the odds of having multiple sex partners among White females during young adulthood (OR: 0.74). Unlike White females, Asian females whose parents received public assistance during adolescence had lower odds of STD diagnosis, lower odds to engage in early sexual debut, and lower odds to report multiple sex partners during young adulthood.
Implications: This study demonstrates that there was no difference in prevalence of STDs among White and Asian young females. One in ten reported that they were diagnosed with any type of STDs in the past 12 months among White and Asian young females. However, the predictors of STDs and sexual risk behaviors are quite different between White and Asian females. Understanding different predictors of STDs and sexual risk behaviors opens a new area for research that includes the role of public assistance among Asian females. Additional research and interventions among White and Asian females is necessary to incorporate racial/ethnic differences and cultural norms in sexual practice during young adulthood to reduce STDs and sexual risk behaviors.