The Collectivity of Sexual Behaviour
Published in: International Journal of STD & AIDS, v. 17, no. 3, Mar. 2006, p. 151-156
Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2005
Human behaviour can be viewed as a collective phenomenon, determined partly by the group to which individuals belong. Collectivities of health behaviour have been found in alcohol consumption, hypertension, obesity, mental illness, and sodium intake in that the average level of risk is associated with the percentage of individuals at extremely high risk. The goal was to investigate whether sexual behaviour may be collectively determined. A cross-sectional US survey was conducted. Across 45 states, the mean number of lifetime sex partners excluding persons with >10, >20, and >40 lifetime partners was strongly associated with the proportion with >10, > 20 and > 40 lifetime sex partners, respectively, among men and women. Sexual activity may represent collectively determined behaviour. If so, interventions to reduce high-risk sexual behaviour to prevent HIV or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) may be more effective if they address the entire population, rather than target only those at the extremes of risk.