The Principal Investigator (PI) is a sociologist with knowledge and experience regarding community and . environmental factors and their relationship to the incidence and prevalence of youth and adult involvement in health-compromising behaviors in urban communities. The Social Research Center, where the PI is currently employed, is the main research campus of Friends Research Institute (FRI), a private non-profit research institution that is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge designed to enhance human welfare and ameliorate maladjustment and disease within society. For over 50 years, researchers at FRI have received federal, state, county, and private funding to conduct studies in the fields of substance abuse, health, HIV/AIDS, mental health, prevention, and criminal justice. In addition, FRI promotes pre-and post-doctoral training experiences designed to facilitate careers in behavioral, public health, and public policy research, providing research positions for talented post-graduate, graduate, and undergraduate students in the behavioral sciences. The Pi's long-term career objective is to become an independent investigator. He would like to focus his professional career on developing and testing intervention models that are designed for urban African American youth and adults at-risk for HIV/AIDS. To that end, the primary aim of the proposed three-year cross-sectional study is to examine the extent to which specific risk and protective factors predict both perceptions of HIV risk and participation in risky sexual behavior among high-risk African American youth. These youth, currently attending Baltimore City Alternative Learning Centers (BCALC), have been expelled from traditional public schools for committing violent acts or for engaging in other serious infractions, with many engaging in risky sexual behavior. Half of the participants will be assessed the first project year and the remainder assessed in the second year. Participants will be 200 male and female students, between the ages of 11 and 17 randomly selected from two BCALC school sites. Assessment data will be collected from January through May during each of the two data collection years.
The research study proposed has the potential to provide a greater understanding of issues related to perceptions of HIV risk and participation in risky sexual behaviors among high-risk urban African American youth. Findings from the study will be of significance to the field of public health by filling important knowledge gaps in terms of risk for HIV infection among such youth.