What is it like to be polyamorous in Tanzania

Multiple Sex Partners - Multiple sex partners

Sexual activities with two or more people

Multiple sexual partners are the amount and frequency of sexual activity with two or more people over a period of time. Sexual activity with MSP can be simultaneous or serial. MSP involves sexual activity between people of the opposite sex or the same sex. A person can be said to have multiple sex partners when the person is having sex with more than one person at the same time. Another term polyamorous , is a behavior and not a measure that describes several romantically, sexually or romantically engaged relationships at the same time.

Young people with MSP in the past year is an indicator used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to assess risky sexual behavior in adolescents and to monitor changes in global HIV / AIDS infection rates and deaths.

Definitions and quantification

Epidemiologists and clinicians who quantify the risks associated with MSP identify those who have had sexual intercourse with more than one partner in the past 12 months. As part of the World Health Organization (WHO) efforts to eradicate HIV infection, quantifying measures are making progress in reducing the percentage of people living with AIDS. The World Health Organization (WHO) has outlined its reasons, assuming that the spread of HIV in most regions depends on the number of MSPs. People with MSP are at higher risk of transmitting HIV than people without multiple sexual partners.

The WHO uses indicators such as MSP, age, mortality, morbidity, geographic location, and signs and symptoms of a disease. This is done so that changes can be measured and the impact of indicators assessed.

After the first quantification of the number of MSPs, the respondent is interviewed again three and five years later. In addition to the survey, the sexual history of the respondents is determined. The analysis helps those who conduct the study to verify and define the term MSP.

For the indicator MSP, the WHO has defined a summary of what it measures, reasons for the indicator, numerator, denominator and calculation, recommended measuring instruments, measurement, frequency and the strengths and weaknesses of the indicator.

The WHO definition of MSP has some strengths and weaknesses. Quantification is an indicator and picture of the level of higher risk sex in a locale. If the respondents changed their activity to a sexual partner, the change is quantified by changing the indicator. This disadvantage is that while a respondent can reduce the number of MSPs over a 12 month period, the indicator does not reflect that change in sexual activity. Even so, a decrease in the number of MSPs cannot indicate any change. This definition and quantification can possibly have a considerable influence on the HIV pandemic and serve as a measure of the success of the program. WHO recommends additional indicators that quantify MSP more precisely to capture the reduction in multiple sexual partners in general. According to the CDC Adolescent Risk Behavior Monitoring System, the presence of multiple sexual partners has been quantified such that people over the age of 25 had four or more sexual partners in one year.

Other examples

Epidemiologists in Tanzania used the MSP indicator in their study of AIDS incidence in 15 to 19 year olds by documenting that the respondent was sexually active and had MSP in the previous 12 months.

Social history (medicine)

A full medical history includes an assessment of the number of sexual partners a person has been with over a period of time.

A social history (abbreviated "SocHx") that is part of a medical examination that addresses family, professional, and leisure aspects of the patient's personal life that has the potential to be clinically important. MSP is only the description of the behavior described clinically. Promiscuity can mean that a moral judgment is made because some sections of society promote sexual activity that only takes place in exclusive, committed relationships with a partner. In this way, researchers often define a society's promiscuity levels at any given point in time. MSP increases the risk of many diseases and other illnesses.

The CDC has historically quantified MSP for adolescents with the following descriptions:

  • Never had sexual intercourse (no MSP)
  • Having multiple sexual partners, defined as having four or more sexual partners during one's lifetime
  • Sexual activity was defined as intercourse within the past 3 months

Some clinicians define MSP by considering concurrent sexual relationships as well.


The likelihood of developing substance abuse or addiction increases linearly with the number of sexual partners, an effect that is more pronounced in women. People with a higher number of sexual partners do not have higher rates of anxiety or depression.

Health risks

MSP increases the risk of developing bacterial vaginosis. MSP can put pregnant women at a higher risk of contracting HIV. HIV is strongly associated with MSP. The presence of multiple sexual partners is linked to a higher incidence of sexually transmitted diseases.

Disease prevention strategies include intensive counseling of those who have met the definition of multiple sexual partners.

In Jamaica, the risky behavior of having multiple sexual partners is a leading cause of the AIDS / HIV epidemic. A 2004 behavior monitoring survey found that 89 percent of men and 78 percent of women ages 15 to 24 had sex with a illegitimate or cohabiting partner in the past 12 months. 56 percent of men and 16 percent of women had multiple sexual partners in the past 12 months.

In sub-Saharan Africa, travel and wealth are risk factors for sexual activity with multiple sexual partners.