Although young people ages 15 to 24 years represent only a quarter of the sexually experienced population, they represent nearly half of all new sexually transmitted diseases (STD). This group is at increased risk for HIV and STD acquisition due to biological, behavioral, and cultural factors. Literature indicates that women, compared to men, are significantly more likely to report a partner having concurrent sexual partnerships, 17% versus 8% respectively. With the alarmingly disproportionate prevalence of HIV and AIDS cases among African American women, recent research points towards the impact of concurrency to address this racial and gender disparity. Having concurrent sexual partnerships increases the likelihood of STD transmission among partners. Having sex within a network of partners with high STD and HIV rates further increases the risk of STD transmission. The goal of this research is to explore and understand the context of having multiple, or concurrent, sex partners among young African American women aged 18 to 25 in heterosexual partnerships. This study is grounded in the theory of gender and power and outcome expectancies, or incentives, as described in the social cognitive theory.
The Specific Aims are to 1) understand the reasons young adults engage in concurrent sexual partnerships, 2) identify and understand condom use in the context of concurrent sexual partnerships, and 3) propose a framework for understanding the context of and factors related to concurrency among African American young women. Women will be selected from an ongoing study and invited to participate in the present study. The study will recruit African American young women (n=40) aged 18 to 25 years to participate in semi-structured interviews lasting 45 to 60 minutes. Interview transcripts will be coded using Nvivo 8.0 software, calculating inter-rater agreement and using thematic coding for themes that emerge. Quantitative data will be collected after completing the semi- structured interviews and will recruit a new sample (n=250) of African American women. The computerized survey includes measures of self-reported STD history, sexual history, self-reported sexual behaviors, as well as beliefs and attitudes related to sexual partnerships, concurrency, partner variables, drug and alcohol use, depression, education, and income. The study will propose a path model based on factors significantly predictive of concurrency. This study will contribute to the literature by examining additional factors based on the theory of gender and power and social cognitive theory. Survey data will be analyzed using SPSS 17.0 and path models will be analyzed using LISREL 8.0.
Concurrent sexual partnerships have been identified as a mode of increased HIV and STD transmission. This study proposes to conduct a mixed methodology examination of the context of concurrency among African American young women, using semi- structured interviews (n=40) and computerized surveys (n=250).