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Predicting the Onset of Sexual and Drug Risk Behaviors in HIV-Negative Youths with HIV- Positive Mothers: The Role of Contextual, Self-Regulation, and Social Interaction Factors

NCJ Number
Journal of Youth and Adolescence Volume: 36 Issue: 3 Dated: April 2007 Pages: 265-278
Claude A. Mellins; Curtis Dolezal; Elizabeth Brackis-Cott; Ouzama Nicholson; Patricia Warne; Heino F.L. Meyer-Bahlburg
Date Published
April 2007
14 pages
Using a modified theory of health behavior, this study examined the effects of maternal HIV infection and psychosocial variables on the onset of sexual and drug risk behaviors for 144 HIV-negative adolescents with and without HIV-positive mothers.
The study found that in this era of successful HIV treatment, having a HIV-positive mother in itself was not an added stressor that contributed to increased adolescent risk behavior related to sexual activity and drug use. Rather, variables that characterize inner-city youth populations are more likely to account for high rates of risky behavior in the samples of HIV affected and unaffected youth. The study supports previous research with urban adolescents that shows contextual and social-interaction factors, particularly those related to caregiver-youth relationships, are important influences on risky sexual and drug-using behavior, in addition to factors of self-regulation. Adolescents and their mothers were interviewed when the youth were 10-14 years old and again when they were 13-19 years old. Sexual behavior was assessed with a version of the Sexual Risk Behavior Assessment Schedule for Youth. Substance use was assessed by using lifetime alcohol and drug-use items from Monitoring the Future. Mothers' HIV status and child knowledge of mother's HIV status were reported by the mothers. Mothers' mental health was determined with the Beck Depression Inventory. The child's mental health was determined from mothers' reports and children's completion of the Child Depression Inventory. Other instruments measured HIV knowledge, self-esteem, self-efficacy, and the parent-child relationship. 3 tables and 84 references