Gender differences in HIV risk behaviors in an adult emergency department in New York City

Jonathan Shuter*, Peter L. Alpert, Max G. Deshaw, Barbara Greenberg, Chee Jen Chang, Robert S. Klein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic in the US increasingly involves urban heterosexual adults, particularly women, belonging to ethnic minority groups. An understanding of gender-based differences in HIV risk behaviors within these groups would be of value in the ongoing struggle to limit HIV transmission in metropolitan centers. Methods. This was a prospective study of demographic and historical characteristics and HIV risk behaviors. The study utilized a structured interview format, which was administered to all patients treated by participating emergency department physicians. Results. On univariate analysis of data obtained from 1,460 patients who had neither a known HIV infection nor a chief complaint or final emergency department diagnosis associated with HIV risk behaviors, men were more likely to be older, homeless, to have ever injected drugs, used crack, engaged in same-gender sex, paid for sex, been incarcerated, or had syphilis or gonorrhea. Women were more likely to report prior chlamydia infection or to report that their sole sex partners had other partners within the past year. On multivariate analysis, variables independently associated with male gender included homelessness, injection drug use, crack use, any prior sexually transmitted disease (in subjects 35 years of age or older), and sex with prostitutes. In a separate analysis of patients admitting to drug use, the male predominance of other risk behaviors was not observed; the only significant differences between genders were a higher rate of prostitution among women and a higher rate of sexual contact with a prostitute among men. Conclusions. In patients visiting an inner-city emergency department in the Bronx, HIV risk behaviors are generally more common in men, but rates of risk behaviors among male and female drug users are comparable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-246
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Urban Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - 06 1999
Externally publishedYes


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