265927 Sexual relationships, sex communication, and condom use: Findings from formative research with behaviorally heterosexual African-American male college students in the southeastern US

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Louis F. Graham, DrPH, MPH , School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Warner L. McGee, DrPH, MPH , President & CEO, B.E. S.A.F.E Inc., Atlanta, GA
Regina McCoy Pulliam, MPH , Department of Public Health Education, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC
Robert Aronson, DrPH , Department of Public Health Education, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC
Scott Rhodes, PhD, MPH, CHES , Department of Social Sciences and Health Policy, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC
Background: We conducted formative research with African-American heterosexual men at two universities in the Southeastern US to inform the development of a culturally congruent, contextually relevant and gender-appropriate HIV prevention intervention. We sought to fill gaps in the literature by providing a deeper understanding of HIV risk through exploration of intimate relationships, black masculinities, communication skills, and condom use.

Methods: After screening for eligibility, 43 eligible men were enrolled in 5 focus groups. From these participants, 20 also completed in-depth individual interviews.

Results: Participants revealed a desire for committed relationships as well as uncomplicated casual sexual relationships. They reported many challenges regarding communicating clearly and specifically about sexual histories, preferences, satisfaction, and condom use. Communication barriers limited potential intimacy, as well as sexual satisfaction and protection. Too much reliance was given to non-verbal communication, which is subject to misinterpretation. Men described qualities of ideal masculinity that they aspire to, particularly as it relates to responsibility, accomplishment, and treatment of others.

Conclusions: Interventions should address barriers to protective behaviors, while strengthening and emphasizing health protective messages and motivations that already exist. Communication barriers inhibit the formation of intimacy and complicate efforts to practice safer sex. Men are influenced regarding condom use by messages they hear from the media and peers. Harnessing the strength of peer networks for communicating protective messages has the potential to influence these men. Finally, men seek ways to enhance their status as men by showing a balance between respectability and reputation. Health messages should emphasize respectability attributes.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
To identify issues related to sexual relationships, sexual communication and condom use that should be addressed in a culturally congruent HIV prevention intervention with African American heterosexual male college students in the Southeastern US.

Keywords: HIV Risk Behavior, HIV Interventions

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a doctoral trained public health researcher with a focus on sexuality and risk for HIV with African American men and African American sexual minority men.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.