Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

17158 Correlates of STI/HIV Knowledge Among African American Girls

Saturday, January 14, 2012: 5:30 PM
Constitution E (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Dexter R. Voisin, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Kevin Tan, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Laura Salazar, PhD, Faculty, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Richard Crosby, PhD, Faculty, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Ralph J. DiClemente, PhD, Candler Professor, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Purpose: The purpose of this study is to identify significant predictors of high sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention knowledge among African American adolescent girls. Based on the information, motivation and behavior (IMB) model, high STI knowledge can directly reduce sexual risk behaviors (Fisher & Fisher, 1992). However, there is a dearth of research that examines factors associated with sexual knowledge among African American girls as most studies have focused on factors that are predictive of risky sexual behaviors, which though important represents a different outcome and set of potential correlates. Therefore, utilizing an ecological approach, this study examines factors related to STI/HIV knowledge. Findings can provide promising points and content for STI intervention that are targeted at African American girls.

Methods: Participants were African American females ages 15 to 21 (n=715) that were recruited from clinics that provide sexual health services to predominantly inner-city adolescents in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. All respondents had reported sexual activity in the previous 60 days. Sexual knowledge was constructed from a series of 11 questions that tested the accuracy of their STI prevention knowledge. In addition, based on the literature, potential factors that can influence sexual knowledge were identified and organized using Bronfenbrenner's (1979) ecological model. Variables analyzed in the study included age, self-efficacy, age of sexual partner, family structure, attendance at sex education classes, neighborhood quality and socioeconomic status. All data was assessed using computer-assisted interviewing techniques. Stepwise regression techniques were used to identify factors that are most predictive of sexual knowledge.

Results: The hypothesized correlates of sexual knowledge were in the anticipated directions. A higher number of sexual partners and neighborhood quality was positively correlated with sexual knowledge. Additionally, lower self efficacy and staying with someone other than both parents were negatively associated with sexual knowledge. Subsequently in the stepwise regression models, three variables retained significance. Number of sexual partners was positively related to sexual knowledge (p ≤ 0.05); self mastery positively related to knowledge (p ≤ 0.001). However, living with someone other than both mother and father was inversely related to sexual knowledge (p ≤ 0.05).

Implications: Findings provide important points for intervention. For instance, male sexual partners are an important source for STI/HIV prevention information and might be targeted for inclusion in interventions for their female counterparts. Lastly, STI interventions targeting African American girls should also go beyond the impartation of knowledge to enhancing self worth to encourage the application of STI/HIV prevention information.

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