Background: HIV and other sexually transmissible infections (HIV/STIs) are significant contributors to adolescent girls' morbidity in the US. Risks for HIV/STIs are increased among adolescent girls involved in the juvenile justice system, and African American adolescent girls comprise nearly 50% of adolescent girls in detention centres. Although HIV prevention programs focus on HIV/STI knowledge, increased knowledge may not be sufficient to reduce sexual risk. The present study examined the interactive effects of HIV/STI knowledge and the importance of being in a relationship (a relationship imperative) on sexual risk behaviours in a sample of detained African American adolescent girls. Methods: In all, 188 African American adolescent girls, 13-17 years of age, were recruited from a short-term detention facility in Atlanta, Georgia, and completed assessments on sexual risk behaviours, relationship characteristics, HIV/STI knowledge and several psychosocial risk factors. Results: When girls endorsed a relationship imperative, higher HIV/STI knowledge was associated with low partner communication self-efficacy, inconsistent condom use and unprotected sex, when controlling for demographics and self-esteem. Conclusions: Young girls with high HIV/STI knowledge may have placed themselves at risk for HIV/STIs given the importance and value they place on being in a relationship. Contextual factors should be considered when developing interventions.
- condom use
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases