Incarceration and Risky Sexual Partnerships in a Southern US City
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Incarceration is strongly associated with HIV infection and may contribute to viral transmission by disrupting stable partnerships and promoting high-risk partnerships. We investigated incarceration and STI/HIV-related partnerships among a community-based sample recruited for a sexual behavior interview while frequenting venues where people meet sexual partners in a North Carolina city (N = 373). Men reporting incarceration in the past 12 months were more likely than men without recent incarceration to experience multiple new sexual partnerships (unadjusted prevalence ratio [PR] 1.8, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.1–3.1) and transactional sex defined as trading sex for money, goods, or services (unadjusted PR: 4.0, 95% CI: 2.3–7.1) in the past 4 weeks. Likewise, women who were ever incarcerated were more likely than never-incarcerated women to experience recent multiple new partnerships (unadjusted PR: 3.1, 95% CI: 1.8–5.4) and transactional sex (unadjusted PR: 5.3, 95% CI: 2.6–10.9). Sexual partnership in the past 12 months with someone who had ever been incarcerated versus with partners with no known incarceration history was associated with recent multiple new partnerships (men: unadjusted PR 2.0, 95% CI 1.4–2.9, women: unadjusted PR 4.8, 95% CI 2.3–10.1) and transactional sex (men: unadjusted PR 3.3, 95% CI 1.7–6.6, women: unadjusted PR 6.1, 95% CI 2.4–15.4). Adjustment for demographic and socioeconomic variables had minimal effect on estimates. However, the strong overlap between incarceration, partner incarceration, and substance abuse had substantial effects in multivariable models. Correctional-facility and community-based HIV prevention, with substance abuse treatment, should reach currently and formerly incarcerated individuals and their sexual partners.