Little is known about why some adolescents with internalizing symptoms engage in sexual behaviors that increase their risk for HIV. This study tested a mediation model of internalizing symptoms and safe sex intentions among adolescents receiving mental health treatment. Self-efficacy for HIV prevention, HIV knowledge, and worry about HIV were hypothesized to mediate associations between internalizing symptoms and safe sex intentions among sexually active and non-active adolescents receiving mental health treatment (N. =. 893, M age. =. 14.9). Significant indirect effects from internalizing symptoms to safe sex intentions varied according to sexual experience: for sexually non-active adolescents, HIV worry and knowledge mediated this link, whereas for sexually active adolescents, HIV self-efficacy was the significant mediator. Increasing both HIV knowledge and self-efficacy for HIV prevention are important targets for HIV prevention with adolescents with internalizing symptoms, and careful attention should be paid towards targeting these interventions to sexually experienced and inexperienced youth.
- HIV prevention
- Internalizing symptoms
- Sexual risk
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science