Examining interest in secondary abstinence among young African American females at risk for HIV or STIs

Erin L.P. Bradley, Jessica M. Sales, Colleen C. Murray, Ralph J. Diclemente

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sexually active African American females are at increased risk for acquiring HIV or STIs. However, some reduce their risk by abstaining from sex for various periods of time following initiation, a practice known as secondary abstinence. Although this may be a valuable mechanism for reducing HIV or STI rates in this population, little is known about those interested in secondary abstinence. Baseline data were obtained from a sample of African American adolescent females, ages 14-20 years, prior to participation in an HIV-risk reduction intervention trial (N = 701). Differences in individual-level and interpersonal-level factors, as well as sociodemographic variables were examined between participants who reported strong interest in secondary abstinence and those who did not. 144 (20.5%) participants reported strong interest in secondary abstinence. Young women with strong interest in abstinence had higher odds of reporting a history of STIs and feeling negative emotions following sex because of their religious beliefs. They also had higher odds of believing their partner may be interested in abstaining and being less invested in their relationship with their main partner. Additionally, adolescents reported less interpersonal stress and more social support. African American females who are interested in practicing secondary abstinence and those who are not differ in their sexual health education needs. Findings from this study characterizing young women interested in secondary abstinence can help researchers provide more targeted health education by identifying those who may be more responsive to abstinence-promoting messages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1120-1128
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Education Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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