Eleven percent of US men say they've carried on more than one sexual relationship at a time during the past year - a practice that may facilitate transmission of HIV, according to researchers.
Using data from a government health survey of nearly 5 000 US men, 11 percent said they had at least two sexual partners during the same time period during the last year.
Of concern, was these men were also more likely to say their female partners were not monogamous either, and said they drank and used drugs during sex. In addition, men with multiple female partners were more likely than monogamous men to have had sex with another man.
Ups HIV risk
All of these behaviours raise the risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). African-American and Hispanic men, who bear a disproportionate share of US HIV cases, were two to three times more likely than whites to have concurrent sex partners.
"This study sheds light on the epidemic of heterosexually transmitted HIV in the US - especially among African Americans and Hispanics," Dr Adaora A. Adimora, the study's lead author, told Reuters Health.
She and her colleagues at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill report the findings in the American Journal of Public Health.
The results are based on a 2002 federal government survey that included 4 928 men between the ages of 15 and 44. Among the 11 percent of men who'd had more than one sex partner at a time in the past year, most said they'd had only female partners.
Facilitates rapid spread
While it's known that a high number of lifetime sexual partners is a risk factor for STDs and HIV, having these relationships at the same time may be especially risky. If one person becomes infected with an STD, he or she can rapidly pass it on, before becoming aware of his or her own infection.
"People - especially women - need to avoid partnerships with people who have other partners," Adimora said, adding that this is especially true for black and Hispanic women.
As always, she noted, people need to use condoms every time they have sex.
SOURCE: American Journal of Public Health, December 2007. – (Reuters Health)