National survey of sexual behavior and sexual behavior policies in facilities for individuals with mental retardation/developmental disabilities.

To obtain information regarding sexual behavior and related policies in state residential facilities for individuals with mental retardation/developmental disabilities, we sent surveys to 168 members listed in the Association of Public Developmental Disabilities Administrators 1998-1999 directory. Response rate was 68.5%. For the 46 facilities where 50% or fewer of clients had profound retardation, sexual relations between clients was reported to occur “sometimes” or “often” by 29 (63%). Six of 115 (5.2%) administrators reported at least one client with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the past year. Of 110 instances of sexual abuse reported, the perpetrator was another client in 63% of cases. Ninety-six percent of administrators (n = 110) reported their facility had written guidelines concerning sexual abuse. Careful monitoring of STDs and the effectiveness of sex education will be instrumental in preventing HIV/STDs and helping prevent sexual abuse in this vulnerable population.