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African American women and HIV: Perceptions of Partner Risk

Marya Shegog, MPH, CHES1, Donna L. Richter, EdD1, Melva V. Thompson-Robinson, MSPE, DrPH2, Denethia B. Sellers, MSW, PhD3, Vanisha Brown, MPH2, and Leah Trahan4. (1) Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Health Sciences Building, Columbia, SC 29208, 803-777-6256, shegogm@mailbox.sc.edu, (2) Institute of Public Health, Florida A&M University, College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, 207C Science Research Center, Tallahassee, FL 32307, (3) Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, Florida A&M University, Gaither Office Complex, Tallahassee, FL 32307, (4) Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, University of South Carolina Norman J. Arnold School of Public Health, Health Sciences Building, Room 216, Columbia, SC 29208

African American women experience numerous psychosocial barriers during discussions with their partners about HIV/AIDS prevention. The purpose of this project is to examine the extent of their knowledge of their male sexual partnersí HIV risk behaviors and how their decision-making regarding sexual activity is shaped by this knowledge or lack of knowledge. A total of 5 focus groups was conducted with 35 African American women in South Carolina and Florida. The recordings from all focus groups were professionally transcribed for analysis. Two investigators coded the data independently for emergent and recurring themes then reviewed and reconciled differences in coding through comparison and discussion. The data was further analyzed for the similarities and differences. The results of these focus groups with African American women in the southeastern United States indicates that a primary barrier was the feeling that their partners are not receptive to discussing issues related to HIV/AIDS. Participants in these focus groups indicated that forcing such discussions could be detrimental to their relationships. Further qualitative analysis has given greater insight into African American womenís perceptions of partner risk for HIV/AIDS and how partner knowledge plays a role in decision-making. Given menís reported reluctance to engage in safer sex discussions, it is imperative that women develop communication and negotiation skills in order to reduce barriers to safer sex.

Learning Objectives:

  • Upon completion of this session, participants will be able to

    Presenting author's disclosure statement:
    I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

    Sexually Transmitted Diseases

    The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA