The continuing spread of HIV in the heterosexual population has produced a large and growing volume of work directed at examining factors associated with individual risk-taking behavior. However, the majority of this research fails to recognize that risk behaviors occur within relationships with other people, and that HIV prevention must be balanced against the competing needs for pregnancy prevention. Previous research also has not fully examined how gender, race and ethnicity, prior risk behavior within relationships, local community-level factors, and other personal, partner and relationship characteristics influence perceptions of risk and risk behavior. Little attention has been paid to how these factors may alter the association between perceptions of risk and risk behaviors. Further, much of the previous research concerned with these topics has employed small non-representative samples, and it has not had the full set of measures necessary to examine these issues in a single cohesive study that examines the interrelations and their links to risk behavior. The proposed study will address these gaps in our knowledge of HIV risk behaviors by using data from two large nationally representative datasets, the National Survey of Men and the National Survey of Women. A unique feature of the proposed study is that these two datasets share a common sampling frame and identical question concerning perception of HIV and pregnancy risk and risk behaviors, characteristics of respondents and their partners, relationships histories and risk behaviors within each relationship and other important information related to perceptions of risk and risk behavior. The proposed study will focus on risk behaviors within relations and will examine how risk behaviors at the initiation of a relationship influence subsequent risk behaviors within the relationship influence subsequent risk behaviors within the relationship; no matter how risk behaviors within a sexual relationship affect the likelihood of dissolution or transformation to marriage, and how risk behaviors prior to marriage affect subsequent risk behaviors in marriage; how risk behaviors within a relationship are associated with risk behaviors affect perceptions of HIV and pregnancy risk; and, how perceptions and prior risk behaviors are associated with recent risk behaviors. Throughout the proposed analyses we will examine how personal, partner, relationship, and local community- level characteristics affect these outcomes and alter the effects that perceptions have on risk behaviors.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG5-AARR-7 (01))
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Newcomer, Susan
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Battelle Centers/Pub Health Research & Evaluatn
United States
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