176411 Your cheating ways: The social construction of infidelity among inner city emerging adults

Tuesday, October 28, 2008: 8:50 AM

Mark M. Macauda, MPH, PhD , Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Pamela Erickson, DrPH, PhD , Anthropology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Claudia Santelices, PhD , Center for Health, Intervention, and Prevention, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Merrill Singer, PhD , Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Dugeidy Ortiz, MA , Anthropology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Rosemary Diaz, MA , Anthropology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Traci Abraham, MA , University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Louise Badiane, RN, PhD , Anthropology, Bridgewater State College, Bridgewater, MA
Having concurrent sexual partners is a risk factor for STIs and HIV/AIDS, yet few studies have investigated the cultural meanings and functions of concurrency. Our multi-method qualitative/quantitative study of sexual ideas, attitudes, and behaviors among inner city Puerto Rican and African American emerging adults age 18-25 in Hartford suggests that having concurrent partners is common in this population. We explored the social construction of concurrency, which consists of both multiple casual partners and cheating/infidelity in serious relationships, and observe that both scenarios characterize the sexual and romantic lives of our participants. Data from 12 focus groups, 60 individual interviews, and 40 participants in systematic data collection techniques (e.g., pile sorts) were used to explore the underlying cognitive structure of concurrency, cheating/infidelity, and relationship typology. Results suggest that motivations for having multiple, simultaneous partners include gaining access to resources, excitement/variety, sexual gratification, emotional fulfillment, transition to new partner, self esteem enhancement, and "hedging emotional bets". These motivational domains are related to the conceptual domains of cheating behavior that include instrumental (for resources), romantic/emotional, physical, and virtual (auto eroticism) types of cheating. Since high self disclosed levels of concurrent/multiple partnerships in this population likely increase STI/HIV risk (and form part of a syndemic of disease, poverty, disadvantage, and racism), the results of this study provide valuable information for developing more comprehensive and effective intervention strategies aimed at reducing risk of STI/HIV among these emerging adults.

Learning Objectives:
1. List the main reasons that emergent adults have concurrent sexual relationships. 2. Discuss instrumental reasons for having concurrent partners within the context of structural disadvantage in the inner city environment. 3. Recognize the need to address the normative nature of concurrent partners in clinic settings.

Keywords: Reproductive Health, Adolescents

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been involved in project implementation and analysis of data
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.