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Factors associated with declining to report the number of sexual partners using computer-assisted self-interviewing: a cross-sectional study among individuals attending a sexual health service in Melbourne, Australia

Chow, EPF1; Carlin, JB2; Read, TRH1; Chen, MY1; Bradshaw, CS1; Sze, JK1; Fairley, CK1

1: Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, Alfred Health, Carlton, Victoria, Australia; 2: Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Parkville, Victoria, Australia

Objectives: Number of sexual partners is one of the most important risk factors for sexually transmitted infections (STI) including HIV. The aim of this study was to examine the association between declining to report number of partners using computer-assisted self-interviewing (CASI) and HIV/STI positivity at a public sexual health service in Melbourne, Australia in 2016.

Material and Methods: Individuals were categorised into three risk populations: women; men who have sex with women only (MSW) and men who have sex with men (MSM). Logistic regression analysis was used to examine the association between declining to report number of sex partners and HIV/STI positivity for each of the three populations, with generalized estimating equations (GEE) used for estimation in MSM to address repeated measures within individuals. Other variables such as age, country of birth and being a new patient at the clinic were considered as potential confounding factors.  

Results: A total of 18,085 individuals (5,579 women, 6,013 MSW, 6,493 MSM) were included in the final analysis. Multivariable analyses showed that there was no association between chlamydia positivity and declining to respond among women and MSW. However, MSM who declined were more likely to be chlamydia positive (aOR: 1.21; 95% CI: 1.01-1.43). Known HIV-positive MSM and MSM newly diagnosed with HIV exhibited 3.31-fold (95% CI: 2.48-4.42) and 2.82-fold (95% CI: 1.84-4.32) greater odds respectively of declining to respond, compared to HIV-negative MSM. Gonorrhoea and syphilis positivity in MSM were not associated with declining to respond.

Conclusions: Women and MSW who declined to report number of partners did not appear to be at higher risk of chlamydia, but MSM who declined to report number of partners were slightly more likely to have chlamydia and substantially more likely to be HIV-positive.


Work supported by industry: no.

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