OBJECTIVE: To study (1) HIV prevalence; (2) sexual risk behaviour; (3) sexual mixing patterns; (4) determinants of disassortative (between-group) mixing among migrant groups in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and to gain insight into the potential for heterosexual spread of HIV/sexually transmitted diseases. DESIGN: Cross-sectional study among 1660 Surinamese, Antilleans and sub-Saharan Africans, mainly recruited on the streets. METHODS: Saliva was tested for HIV and questions were asked about sociodemographic characteristics, sexual behaviour and the ethnicity of sexual partners. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to find predictors for disassortative mixing. RESULTS: HIV prevalence was 1.1% (95% confidence interval: 0.6-1.7). Compared with the Dutch population in general, our study group reported having multiple partners, concurrent partnerships and a history of sexually transmitted diseases much more frequently. Sex in the country of origin during a visit occurred frequently and there was a considerable degree of sexual mixing between different ethnic groups in the Netherlands. For men, disassortative mixing was associated with hard drug use, recent immigration, a high number of partners, being from Nigerian or Hindu-Surinamese origin, a recent sexually transmitted disease and, for steady relationships, consistent condom use. For women, determinants included: hard drug use, low income, being a-religious and, for Antillean and Ghanaian women, consistent condom use. CONCLUSION: Our data suggest a potential for heterosexual spread of sexually transmitted diseases within and between ethnic groups in the Netherlands. The potential for HIV spread is however limited by the low HIV prevalence at present among these groups. This situation may change when HIV prevalence increases in the countries of origin, as bridges exist between those countries and the Netherlands. Culturally appropriate AIDS prevention programmes remain important for these groups.
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