“Short-term Mobility and Sexual Behavior – Testing the Selection, Enabling, and Influence Hypotheses”
Department of Geography
University of California, Santa Barbara
Short-term mobility is often associated with increased risk behavior. For example, mobile individuals often have higher rates of sexual risk behavior compared to non-mobile individuals, but the reasons why are not clear. Using monthly retrospective panel data from Ghana, we test whether short-term mobility is associated with differences in total and unprotected sex acts, and whether the association is due to enabling, selection, or influential reasons. Men who were mobile in a given month had more sex acts compared to non-mobile men. Regardless of short-term mobility in a given month, both men and women who were mobile in future months had more sex acts compared to individuals not mobile in future months. Our findings support the hypothesis that both men and women who are mobile are positively selected on sexual risk behavior. The enabling hypothesis, that the act of being mobile enables sexual risk behavior, was only supported for men.
Susan Cassels, PhD, MPH is an assistant professor of Geography and a research associate in the Broom Center for Demography at the University of California Santa Barbara. Her work spans many disciplines, including demography, epidemiology, and geography. Cassels’ research interests are in the areas of population health, migration, epidemic modeling, HIV/AIDS, and sexual networks. Currently, her research is focused on migration and residential mobility and its effects on sexual risk behavior, sexual network structure and HIV transmission. She has ongoing projects among heterosexuals in Ghana and among men who have sex with men in Seattle and Los Angeles.
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