Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Noah, Aggie J., Tse-Chuan Yang*, and Wei-lin Wang.

Abstract

Background: We investigate the roles of residential racial segregation and income inequality for the black-white disparity in acquiring sexually transmitted diseases (STD) during pregnancy in a multilevel framework.

Methods: The analytic sample consisted of non-Hispanic white (N = 79,271) or non-Hispanic black (N = 17,669) mothers from 2012 population birth data from Pennsylvania. We used the 2009-2013 American Community Survey for neighborhood characteristics of mothers; we used multilevel models.

Results: First, neighborhood-level factors are important for understanding this disparity because racial segregation and income inequality are significantly associated with acquiring STD during pregnancy, regardless of race. Second, racial segregation moderates the relationships between race/ethnicity and the acquisition of STD during pregnancy. White mothers are more vulnerable to neighborhood segregation than black mothers, and black mothers are less likely to acquire STD during pregnancy than white mothers if they reside with co-ethnics. Third, mothers residing in the most socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods-as indicated by both absolute and relative measures of income inequality-have the highest odds of acquiring STD during pregnancy, regardless of race.

Conclusions: Neighborhood-level segregation and income inequality are important for understanding the acquisition of sexually transmitted diseases during pregnancy. Our findings have important implications for future research and for place-specific prevention and intervention to reduce the racial disparity in STD during pregnancy.

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* Denotes CSDA Associates, Affiliates, and Staff