Safer sex choices among African-American college women

Faith Elizabeth Foreman, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The purpose of this dissertation was to explore and describe the factors that influence the safer sex choices of African-American college women. The pandemic of HIV and the prevalence of other sexually transmitted diseases has disproportionately affected African-American females. As young women enter college they are faced with a myriad of choices. Unprotected sexual exploration is one choice that can lead to deadly consequences. This dissertation explores, through in-depth interviews, the factors associated with the decision to practice or not practice safe sex. The first study describes the factors associated with increased sexual risk taking among African-American college women. Sexual risk taking or sex without a condom was found to be more likely when issues of self or partner pleasure were raised. Participants were also likely to have sexual intercourse without a condom if they desired a long term relationship with their partner. The second study examined safe sex decision making processes among a group of African-American college women. Women were found to employ both emotional and philosophical strategies to determine their safe sex behavior. These strategies range from assessing a partner's physical capabilities and appearance to length of the dating relationship. The third study explores the association between knowledge and risk perception as predictors for safer sex behaviors. Knowledge of HIV/AIDS and other STDs was not found to be a determinant of safer sex behavior. Perception of personal risk was also not highly correlated with consistent safer sex behavior. These studies demonstrate the need for risk-based safer sex education and intervention programs. The current climate of knowledge-based program development insures that women will continue to predicate their decision to practice safer sex on their limited perception and understanding of the risks associated with unprotected sexual behavior. Further study into the emotional and philosophical determinants of sexual behavior is necessary for the realistic design of applicable and meaningful interventions.

Subject Area

Public health|Health education|Womens studies|Black studies|African American Studies

Recommended Citation

Foreman, Faith Elizabeth, "Safer sex choices among African-American college women" (2000). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9985995.