Background: Latent class analysis (LCA) is a useful statistical tool that can be used to enhance understanding of how various patterns of combined sexual behavior risk factors may confer differential levels of HIV infection risk and to identify subtypes among African American adolescent girls. Methods: Data for this analysis is derived from baseline assessments completed prior to randomization in an HIV prevention trial. Participants were African American girls (n=701) aged 14-20 years presenting to sexual health clinics. Girls completed an audio computer-assisted self-interview, which assessed a range of variables regarding sexual history and current and past sexual behavior. Results: Two latent classes were identified with the probability statistics for the two groups in this model being 0.89 and 0.88, respectively. In the final multivariate model, class 1 (the "higher risk" group; n=331) was distinguished by a higher likelihood of >5 lifetime sexual partners, having sex while high on alcohol/drugs, less frequent condom use, and history of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), when compared with class 2 (the "lower risk" group; n=370). The derived model correctly classified 85.3% of participants into the two groups and accounted for 71% of the variance in the latent HIV-related sexual behavior risk variable. The higher risk class also had worse scores on all hypothesized correlates (e.g., self-esteem, history of sexual assault or physical abuse) relative to the lower risk class. Conclusions: Sexual health clinics represent a unique point of access for HIV-related sexual risk behavior intervention delivery by capitalizing on contact with adolescent girls when they present for services. Four empirically supported risk factors differentiated higher versus lower HIV risk. Replication of these findings is warranted and may offer an empirical basis for parsimonious screening recommendations for girls presenting for sexual healthcare services.
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