largely by public health efforts to decrease HIV transmission. In the absence of a comprehensive research agenda to study sexual behavior and norms, HIV-related research—as conducted in both the biomedical and social sciences—has produced a wealth of information about STD-related sexual behaviors, particularly regarding efficacy and determinants of condom use. The research spawned by the HIV epidemic has allowed sexual behaviors to be studied at a far greater magnitude than has been possible previously. The number of studies on sexual behavior and sexuality has increased substantially, with many providing important information about the range of sexual behaviors and patterns that exist within populations (Catania et al., 1992; Sonenstein et al., 1991; Leigh et al., 1993; Laumann, Gagnon, et al., 1994). Another significant development is that a new level of sexual discourse is developing, characterized by an increased willingness to talk publicly and explicitly about sexuality topics.
Despite the recent surge of research activity regarding sexual behaviors, the knowledge base is still limited, and many epidemiological studies of human sexuality are outdated (Laumann, Gagnon, et al., 1994). While some government funding has been provided, there has been little major or consistent support from either the government or the private sector for behavioral and social science research on human sexuality since the work of Kinsey and his colleagues (di Mauro, 1995). Comprehensive data on contemporary sexual behaviors, attitudes, and practices are limited, and it is not understood how these factors are shaped by different societal, cultural, and familial contexts (Laumann, Gagnon, et al., 1994; di Mauro, 1995).
Societal ambivalence regarding sexuality poses substantial obstacles to research regarding sexual behavior. For example, in 1991, there was unprecedented political interference with scientific research when federal administration officials, under pressure by congressional critics, blocked funding for studies of adolescent and adult sexual behavior after these studies had been approved for funding by a scientific peer-review process at the National Institutes of Health (Suplee, 1991; Laumann, Michael, et al., 1994). Congressional critics alleged that sexual behavior surveys were intended to solely "legitimize homosexual lifestyles" (Laumann, Michael, et al., 1994). The survey was eventually privately funded and became the National Health and Social Life Survey, which is the most comprehensive survey of sexual behavior in the United States in many years (Laumann, Gagnon, et al., 1994).
Researchers in human sexuality come from diverse disciplines such as anthropology, education, history, medicine, psychology, and sociology. Few researchers, however, have had specific training in designing, conducting, and evaluating research in sexuality (di Mauro, 1995). It has been generally, and incorrectly, assumed that conducting sexuality research requires no specific preparation or training other than the ability to integrate questions about sexual behavior into research design. While the inadequacy of sexuality training is well documented for health care professionals and educators (Lief and Karlen, 1976;