Motivations for Secondary Abstinence Among African American Females at Risk for HIV/Sexually Transmitted Infections

Erin L.P. Bradley, Jessica M. Sales, Kirk W. Elifson, Ralph J. DiClemente

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Some sexually experienced African American females abstain from sexual activity for various reasons and periods of time following sexual debut (secondary abstinence), reducing their risk of HIV/sexually transmitted infection (STI) acquisition. However, few studies have sought to understand secondary abstinence motivations. Furthermore, the scope of existing knowledge may be limited by the quantitative approaches employed. Thus, the purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate secondary abstinence motivations among African American females using a grounded theory approach. Interviews were conducted with 20 young women, aged 18 to 23 years, who recently completed a sexual risk-reduction intervention. Motivations for secondary abstinence not identified in previous studies included feeling used for sex, partner infidelity, and abuse or sexual assault. Also, young women were motivated to abstain to focus on improving certain aspects of their lives. Other motivations similar to those previously identified included not being married or in a committed relationship, separation from one's partner, and STI and pregnancy experiences or fears. Insight from this investigation can be used to improve measurement of motivations and to develop and refine HIV/STI interventions for this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-374
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Black Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2013


  • African American females
  • HIV
  • qualitative
  • secondary abstinence
  • sexual health
  • sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Applied Psychology


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