Original Research: Sexual Risk in Lesbians and Bisexual Women

  • Kathleen M. Morrow
  • Jenifer E. Allsworth


Objective: To describe the frequency of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) sexual risk behaviors in lesbian and bisexual women. Design: Cross-sectional anonymous self-administered questionnaire. Setting: Women's cultural events; HIV/STD service organizations; women's health collectives. Participants: 504 self-identified lesbian and bisexual women. The sample was composed of predominantly white, well-educated women with a mean age of 35 years. Results: Both lesbian and bisexual women engaged in behaviors that potentially lead to transmission of HIV and other STDs. Lesbians were more likely to have a single sexual partner than were bisexual women. Bisexual women were more likely to report a history of STD. Of those sexually active with male partners, one-third reported multiple male partners in the previous year. Significantly more bisexual women reported condom use. Women with multiple partners were more likely to consider themselves at risk for HIV/STD. Having unprotected sex or male partners was not associated with an increased risk perception. Conclusions: Lesbian and bisexual women are engaging in sexual behaviors that may increase their risk for HIV or STD infection. Culturally sensitive prevention programs are needed.

HIV STD women lesbian bisexual prevention 


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Copyright information

© Gay and Lesbian Medical Association 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathleen M. Morrow
    • 1
  • Jenifer E. Allsworth
    • 2
  1. 1.Centers for Behavioral and Preventive MedicineBrown University School of MedicineProvidence
  2. 2.Department of Community HealthBrown University School of MedicineProvidence

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