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Genital Herpes Health Center

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Women More Likely to Admit to STDs

WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD

Feb. 27, 2002 -- Honesty may be the best policy, but it's a policy that's not followed equally by both sexes in the bedroom. New research shows women are seven times more likely to admit to a partner that they have a sexually transmitted infection.

But the French study, published in Sexually Transmitted Infections, also found that both sexes are equally guilty of avoiding the truth when it comes to informing previous partners about STDs. Although the majority of adult men and women told their current partner about their infection, nearly three-quarters said they had not told other partners.

"Our results suggest that, although most adults said that they had notified at least one partner, occasional partners were rarely alerted following the diagnosis of an STD," write the researchers. "More than two-thirds of the patients did not inform partners other than their main partner."

The CDC recommends that STD patients notify all sexual partners with whom they've had sexual contact in the 60 days prior to a diagnosis of chlamydia or gonorrhea. If 60 days has passed since their last sexual contact, then the last sexual partner should be notified.

The findings of this study are based on three population-based surveys conducted in France during the early to mid-1990s. Two of the surveys included about 7,000 adults, and the third included about 6,000 adolescents aged 15 and over.

Forty-five of the adolescents and 179 of the adults reported a history of sexually transmitted infection. Less than 10% of the adults said they had not informed their main sexual partners about a diagnosis of STD, but that number varied greatly by gender. One of the surveys found 14% of the men had not informed their main partner compared with only 2% of the women.

Researchers say the situation is particularly troublesome for teens. Nearly a third of the adolescents surveyed said they had not told the partner they were with when they received the STD diagnosis, and that number grew to 41% among those who were under age 16 at the time of diagnosis.

"Overall, these results are all the more worrying in that they probably underestimate the true situation," write the authors.

They say their findings only include people who admitted a history of STDs in the surveys, and those who did not declare such a history may be even less inclined to inform a partner. Also, since the survey information was self-reported by the respondents, it is possible that some did not tell the truth about informing their partners.

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