One in 10 Men Has Multiple Sex Partners

"We found that concurrent relationships were more common among men who were black, Hispanic, or had been incarcerated in the last year," she said, adding that this correlation could be due to a number of factors, including higher death rates among men in certain racial groups and higher rates of incarceration among black men.

But Eli Coleman, professor and director of the Program in Human Sexuality at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis, says the underlying factors go further than race alone.

"Certain groups are more at risk for HIV infection than others," he conceded. "However, racial differences obscure the underlying factors which lead to poor sexual health.

"Poverty, stigma and discrimination, lack of access to health care, education might be more of a common denominator among white, black and Hispanic groups -- these factors deserve more investigation."

Adimora agrees that other factors could be at play, as men who engaged in concurrent sexual relationships also seemed to have other behaviors in common.

"Men who did have concurrent relationships were more likely to be intoxicated on drugs and alcohol, to have relationships with women who had multiple partners, and to have had sexual relationships with men in the past," she said.

Solving the HIV Epidemic

Coleman says that in order to stem the spread of sexually-transmitted infections, public health experts must develop a holistic approach -- one which takes into account a number of factors that seem to increase the chances of a spectrum of unhealthy behaviors.

"We need approaches that will remove health disparities caused by poverty, stigma and discrimination, poor access to health care and education," Coleman said. "We need to develop a sexual health approach to HIV infection which will provide sexuality education, access to sexual health care, all which is culturally sensitive and relevant."

Central among these factors, he says, is poverty.

"HIV is probably more a risk among poor and disenfranchised groups," Coleman said. "Prevention programming needs to better target these groups ... This is a vicious cycle that needs to be broken."

And Kate Wachs, a clinical psychologist in Chicago, Ill. and author of the book "Relationships for Dummies," says women can take an important cue from the research.

"Hopefully, the general public will start to be more cautious," she says. "Women need to start thinking, 'How many partners do I have? How many partners have my partners had? How many of those were men? How many wore condoms?'

"People are not as safe as they thought they were, and women have to be careful here."

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