Perceived risk of chlamydial and gonococcal infection among sexually experienced young adults in the United States

Carol A. Ford, Philip E. Bardsley, William C. Miller, James Jaccard, Susan G. Millstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


CONTEXT: Understanding young adults' perceived risk of chlamydial and gonococcal infection can inform interventions to reduce the prevalence of these sexually transmitted diseases. METHODS: Bivariate and multivariate analyses, using data from Wave 3 of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (2001-2002), were conducted to examine relationships between perceived risk and selected characteristics in two groups: a nationally representative sample of sexually experienced 18-26-year-olds and a subsample of those who tested positive for chlamydia or gonorrhea. The relationship between current infection and perceived risk was also evaluated. RESULTS: Only 14% of all respondents and 33% of infected participants reported some perceived risk of chlamydial or gonococcal infection. In the overall sample, the odds of perceiving risk were significantly elevated among blacks, Hispanics, unmarried respondents, inconsistent condom users and nonusers, respondents who reported multiple partners in the past year, those who had received a diagnosis of chlamydia or gonorrhea in the past year, and those reporting current symptoms (odds ratios, 1.5-3.3). Currently infected participants were significantly more likely than those who were not infected to perceive some risk of infection (2.4). Among infected respondents, the factors positively associated with perceived risk were being black or Hispanic, using condoms inconsistently or not using them, having exchanged money for sex, having been tested in the past year but with no diagnosis, having received a diagnosis, and reporting current symptoms (2.5-5.2). CONCLUSIONS: Interventions to increase the accuracy of young adults' risk perceptions may influence sexual and health care-seeking behaviors in a way that will reduce rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)258-264
Number of pages7
JournalPerspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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