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American Public Health Association
133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition
December 10-14, 2005
Philadelphia, PA
APHA 2005
5113.0: Wednesday, December 14, 2005 - 1:10 PM

Abstract #111788

Defining relationship status among those at risk for HIV: Pretest findings of an HIV risk behavior survey

Lisa B. Moses, LCSW, MPH, MS, Westat, 1650 Research Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20850, 301-294-4477, lisamoses@westat.com and Paul Beatty, PhD, Office of Research and Methodology, National Center for Health Statistics, 3311 Toledo Road, Hyattsville, MD 20782.

HIV/AIDS prevention efforts rely on survey data to track risky behaviors and to evaluate programs. It has been suggested that safer sex behaviors differ based on relationship characteristics of partners, i.e., length of relationship, knowledge of partner's sexual history, and commitment level. Researchers theorized that sexual relationships can be broken down into two categories: “steady partner” and “non-steady partner,” and that these terms could be defined in a way that could be consistently interpreted by a wide variety of study respondents. Researchers utilized cognitive interviewing, a question pre-testing technique, with 16 participants, in an attempt to determine whether questions utilizing the researchers' definitions of these categories matched individuals' conceptualizations of these terms. In-depth responses were explored to assess problems with the intention and comprehension of relationship status with intravenous drug-using (IDU) women, IDU men, and men-who-have-sex-with men (MSM). Generally, participants could distinguish between steady and non-steady partners, although some participants had broader interpretations of what constituted a “steady” partner. Some had strong opinions about what the term “steady” meant, and when their interpretation clashed with the definition provided, seemed to go with their interpretation, potentially leading to over-counts. The definition was most problematic among the MSM sample. Recommendations, based on the findings of these cognitive interviews, will explore how people at risk for HIV classify ambiguous relationships (those on the cusp between “steady” and “non-steady”) in greater depth, potential effects on HIV risk behavior data accuracy, and options for improving these definitions to better assess HIV risk.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: HIV Risk Behavior, Research

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

I wish to disclose that I have NO financial interests or other relationship with the manufactures of commercial products, suppliers of commercial services or commercial supporters.

Surveillance of HIV Risk Behaviors

The 133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition (December 10-14, 2005) of APHA