Perceived discrimination is a concrete aspect of racism with well-documented health implications for people of color in the U.S. Importantly, such health disparities related to perceived discrimination are clearly evident among Latino youth, the largest racial/ethnic minority segment of the increasingly diverse American child population and a particularly vulnerable group subjected to discriminatory treatment. To date, the growing literature on the health implications of perceived discrimination has not really delved into sexual risk-taking, which is curious given that it is a key component of Healthy People 2020 and in light of the plethora of research highlighting the disproportionately higher rates of STDs, HIV/AIDS, and unintended pregnancies afflicting Latino adolescents. Studying this link in this population, therefore, has significant
This project connects two topics with clear health significance?perceived discrimination and sexual risk- taking?in a critical population of interest. Based on a successful pilot study that already addressed many of the practical barriers to studying this topic in this population ? we test the pathways through with perceived discrimination affects Latino preadolescents' sexual risk behaviors and identify culturally congruent developmental processes that support sexual health. An examination of these factors during the sensitive period of early adolescence, when Latino youth are particularly vulnerable to discrimination and before sexual activity becomes common, can help in the development of gender and culturally-based prevention and intervention programs for Latino adolescents.