Consisting of ideas, understandings, beliefs, and subjective knowledge, culture is a determinant of adolescent risk behavior that is shared by adolescents in a given social group. Culture affects adolescent risk behavior because individuals choose roles and select situations leading to risky behavior from among culturally posited options. In this proposed five year community-based research project, we plan to study a particular domain of adolescent culture, that of sex and romantic relationships. We focus on two populations that have high levels of risk for HIV infection associated with sex and romantic relationships- mid-low to low SES African American heterosexual late adolescents and mid-low to low SES African American sexual minority late adolescents. The goal of the research is to identify cultural predictors of HIV risk that are generalizable, respectively, to mid-low to low SES African American adolescents of either heterosexual or sexual minority orientation. Our first specific aim is to identify, using qualitative methods, cultural models of sex and romantic relationships in samples drawn from heterosexual and sexual minority communities in three geographically distal cities: Oakland, CA, Chicago, IL and Birmingham, AL. Our second specific aim is to compare, using a survey, cultural models related to sex and romantic relationships among samples drawn from the same three heterosexual and the same three sexual minority groups. Our third specific aim is to study the effect of cultural model-determined culturally specified attributes (CS As) related to sex and romantic relationships on the HIV risk behaviors of each sexual orientation group. Using new samples, we will test the hypothesis that these CSA measures will predict HIV risk behaviors of the corresponding sexual orientation group better than non-cultural self-report measures that have previously been shown to predict HIV risk behaviors in these populations. The proposed research tests an innovative method for identification of group- specific cultural knowledge related to sex and romantic relationships, calibrates findings to account for inter-group differences, and develops cultural measures that can be used both to explain HIV risk behavior and to design HIV risk reduction interventions suited to specific populations.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Behavioral and Social Science Approaches to Preventing HIV/AIDS Study Section (BSPH)
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Newcomer, Susan
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University of California San Francisco
Schools of Medicine
San Francisco
United States
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Deardorff, Julianna; Suleiman, Ahna Ballonoff; Dal Santo, Teresa S et al. (2013) Motivations for sex among low-income African American young women. Health Educ Behav 40:646-50
Eyre, Stephen L; Flythe, Michelle; Hoffman, Valerie et al. (2012) Primary relationship scripts among lower-income, African American young adults. Fam Process 51:234-49