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Keywords

condom negotiation skills; condom use; HIV risk; intimate partner violence; racial disparities; self-esteem; sexual coercion; sexual pressure; women

Abstract

Introduction. Condom self-efficacy, positive attitudes toward condom use, condom negotiation skills, HIV knowledge, and self-esteem have been associated with decreased HIV risk behavior among young women, but few studies have examined racial disparities that may exist in these social health indicators. Moreover, sexual pressure (inclusive of both coercive and non-coercive pressures to engage in unwanted or unprotected sex) has been understudied in women of different racial groups.

Study Purpose. The purpose of this study was to compare racial similarities and disparities in indicators of sexual health and sexual pressure in an urban sample of young African American and Caucasian women who engage in high-risk sexual behavior.

Methods. A convenience sample of African American women and Caucasian women ages 19-25 (N = 100, 50% AAW) was recruited from a local health department located in a Southeastern metropolitan area. Statistical analyses included descriptive analyses, linear, and logistic regressions.

Findings. African American women reported higher self-esteem, but lower condom negotiation skills than Caucasian women. Although mean scores of sexual pressure did not differ between races, African American women scored significantly higher on the sexual coercion subscale. Condom use did not significantly differ between races.

Conclusions. Identifying factors that empower young minority women toward safer sexual practices is an important step in implementing effective HIV prevention interventions. Interventions that target power imbalances and gender norms in sexual relationships will benefit from addressing ways in which to increase resistance to sexual pressure in both coercive and non-coercive situations. Lastly, researchers should tailor interventions based on the social context and ensure their relevance for various racial/ethnic groups.