Sexually transmitted infections, unintended pregnancy, and HIV/AIDS among Black emerging adult women (BEAW) are increasing at alarming rates. Sexual safety is often narrowly conceptualized as the avoidance of risk behaviors and little is known about the varied ways in which women manage their sexual safety while meeting their needs for emotional love, trust, intimacy, and desire. Unfortunately, risk-based frameworks provide a one-dimensional understanding of sexually-related problems among BEAW and these frameworks often render women's efforts to maintain their sexual safety invisible. In contrast, this application aims to understand this phenomenon using a healthy sexuality framework. The concept of healthy sexuality attends to the meanings of health and positive emotion which often accompanies individuals as sexual beings. The purpose of this narrative study is to describe how BEAW manage their sexual safety within a healthy sexuality framework. The applicant will explore how BEAW perceive meanings of sexual safety, describe how they manage(d) their sexual safety in their recent and current sexual relationships, and identify factors that facilitate and hinder their efforts to manage their sexual safety. The participants'in-depth descriptions of how they manage(d) sexual safety in their recent and current sexual relationships will provide much needed data about the complexities of how sexual safety is managed in this population. Nurse scientists must attend to the perceptions, meanings, and management of BEAW's sexual safety in order to design effective science-based programs and interventions. This narrative study and training plan serves to launch the applicant's program of research in sexuality science and women's health among traditionally marginalized populations. It is highly relevant to the research priorities of the National Institute of Nursing Research mission because the study aims to promote health and prevent disease.
The applicant's proposal anchors the highly investigated topic of sexual safety among young Black women, within a paradigm of health and well-being. This approach stands in stark contrast to its often narrow conceptualization as the avoidance of risk behaviors only. Discovering ways in which Black emerging adult women make meanings from sexuality experiences and subsequently manage sexual safety is highly relevant to public health. This proposal seeks to understand these phenomena as the first step in establishing appropriate theory-based interventions designed to mitigate sexually-related disease burdens in communities of color.
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