Judith C. Baer, PhD, Rutgers University and Claudia Moreno, PhD, Rutgers University.
Latino adolescents represent 16% of the adolescent population and yet they are overrepresented in the cases of HIV/AIDS, accounting for 21% of the HIV/AIDS population (Center for Disease Control and Prevention[CDC], 2005). The incidence of HIV/AIDS among adults and adolescent Hispanics is three times higher than for non-Hispanic Whites (CDC, 2004). While the use of latex condoms can effectively reduce HIV infection, research shows lower condom use by Latino adolescents than by African American or White adolescents (Brener et al., 2002; Villaruel et al., 2004). Previous studies have used the theory of planned behavior to examine predictors of condom use in Latino youth (Jemmott, Jemmott, & Villarruel, 2002; Norris & Ford, 1992; Villarruel et al., 2004). The theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, 1991) proposes that specific behavioral intentions are considered the major determinants of behaviors. Behavioral intentions are determined by attitudes toward the behavior, subjective norms regarding it, and perceived control over it. The purpose of this study was to examine within group variations in behavior intentions for condom use among Latino adolescents. No within group studies were located in the literature and we hypothesized that behavioral intentions would vary by ethnic subgroup just as they do between groups. Our sample consisted of a secondary analysis of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). The ethnic makeup of the sample was adolescents who self-identified as: Mexican Americans (N=1702), Chicanos (N=152), Cuban (N=538), Puerto Ricans (N=633), Central/South American (N=403), and Hispanic Other (N=320). Measures of behavioral intentions were: (1) the belief that they were socially accepted; (2) the belief that if they engaged in sexual activity it would upset their parents; (3) the belief that condom use was acceptable by their peers; (4) the belief that they would gain respect by having sexual intercourse; (5) the belief that using a condom was important; (6) the belief that they knew how to use a condom. Regression analyses were performed using Stata 8.0 software employing weights and survey commands. While the need for acceptance and condom use was positively associated with sexual intercourse in all the groups, there were significant subgroup and gender differences. Significant findings were: For females, who self identified as Chicano, inadequate knowledge about condoms was negatively associated with having sex (t = -4.43, p<.000) and they felt they would loose respect if they had sex (t= 2.34, p<.02). Cuban males needed to feel social accepted to use condoms (t =2.91, p<.05), and Cuban females said they believed that if they had sex they would be less lonely (t = 2.10, p<.04). Central American males believed that if they had sex they would not be less lonely (t = -2.70, p<.05). Central American females believed they would not loose respect if they had sex (-3.06, p<.003), but if they had sex they would upset their mother (t = 2.31, p<.02), and if they had sex they would be less lonely (t = 2.92, p<.004). Our findings underscore the complexity of the issues and call for ethnic specific interventions.