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Estimates of sexual partnership dynamics: extending negative and positive gaps to status lengths
  1. D Castillo-Guajardo,
  2. G García-Ramos
  1. Department of Biology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA
  1. Correspondence to Derik Castillo-Guajardo, Department of Biology, University of Kentucky, 101 TH Morgan Building, Lexington, KY 40506, USA;{at}


Background The aims of this study are to generalise the concept of gap length between partners and to estimate the duration of four types of measures for heterosexual partnerships, called status lengths: (1) time spent as single before becoming monogamous (S–M, positive gap), (2) duration of concurrency before monogamy (C–M, negative gap), (3) duration of monogamy before concurrency (M–C) and (4) time spent in monogamy before becoming single (M–S).

Methods Medians and CIs were obtained using the US National Survey of Family Growth Cycle 6 conducted in 2002.

Results A significant gender difference was found in the monogamous to single status length (medians 38 months for women, and 19.3 months for men). Other status lengths were similar between genders (S–M: 20 women, 18 men; M–C: 16 women, 13 men; and C–M: 5 for women and men). Respondents younger than the median age at first marriage showed shorter status lengths compared to older ones. Median status lengths were comparable between heterosexuals and bisexuals. Percentage of concurrency in 1 year was 3.3% for women and 3.8% for men.

Conclusions One of the new status lengths (M–C) qualitatively indicates the transmission risk to an upcoming concurrent partner. The set of four status lengths may be useful in the context of epidemiological models with partnership dynamics.

  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • risk factors
  • sexual partners
  • positive and negative gaps
  • risk prediction
  • sexual behaviour

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  • Funding National Science Foundation Center for Computational Sciences, University of Kentucky, Lexington; Department of Biology, University of Kentucky, Lexington; AIDS International Training Research Program at Emory University.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.