The importance of ethnicity as a risk factor for STDs and sexual behaviour among heterosexuals

Genitourinary Medicine, Volume 67, Issue 5: Pages 378-383, October 1991.

Hooykaas C; van der Velde FW; van der Linden MM; van Doornum-GJ; Coutinho-RA

Municipal Health Service of Amsterdam, Department of Public Health, The Netherlands.


OBJECTIVES: To study risk factors for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexual behaviour. Especially to assess whether there is a higher risk of being infected with STDs among ethnic minorities, and if so for what reasons.

SETTING: STD-clinic of the Municipal Health Service of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

SUBJECTS: Cross-sectional study of heterosexuals (255 men and 343 women) with multiple sexual partners, who participated between October 1987 and January 1990.

RESULTS: Besides STD-related complaints, ethnicity was an important independent predictor of one or more diagnosed genital STDs. STD-prevalence was higher among men born in Turkey (47%, OR = 3.4) and men born in Surinam (36%, OR = 2.1), compared with Dutch men (21%). While Turkish men had mainly riskful sexual behaviour with prostitutes, Surinam men had more often riskful sexual contact with private partners. Among women, STD prevalence was higher among West-European (38%, OR = 2.3) and Latin-American women (30%, OR = 1.6), compared with Dutch women (21%). Latin American women had more often riskful sexual contact with clients; sexual behaviour of West-European women was riskful with both clients and private partners.

CONCLUSIONS: Prevention activities should be directed at specific sexual and ethnic groups, sources of information should be carefully selected, and some groups should be addressed differently with regard to language but to content as well.

CIRP logo Note:

This study is significant because Dutch men are usually non-circumcised intact males, but immigrant men from Turkey and Surinam are Muslims, who are usually circumcised for religious reasons. This study confirms the findings of Laumann et al. that circumcised men tend to engage in more risky sexual behavior and have a higher incidence of STD.


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