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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”


HIV Knowledge and Sexual Behavior of Adolescent Girls

Nursing Research

from Medscape Nurses

Morrison-Beedy D, Carey MP, Aronowitz T. Psychosocial correlates of HIV risk behavior in adolescent girls. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing. 2003;32:94-101.

Among adolescents newly infected with HIV, females outnumber males, with a disproportionate representation from members of minority or economically disadvantaged groups. Earlier studies have found that adolescent girls tend to hold common misconceptions about HIV transmission and to engage in unprotected sexual activity. Researchers surveyed 129 sexually active women, aged 15 to 19 years, on their sexual behaviors and their awareness of safe sex practices. The sample was 56% white, 36% African American, 6% Hispanic, and 2% Asian, with 34% from economically disadvantaged families and 55% working at least part-time. The results revealed several areas of gaps in HIV knowledge: 55% thought that a Pap smear tested for HIV, 30% were not aware that HIV could be transmitted through oral sex, 19% were not aware of transmission through anal sex, 77% believed oil-based lubricants improved condom effectiveness, and significant percentages thought that douching, withdrawal during intercourse, or taking vitamins or antibiotics helped prevent HIV transmission. More than 40% recognized that they did not routinely practice safe sex and needed to change their sexual behavior. While most reported that condoms could help prevent pregnancy, and protect both themselves and their partners from sexually transmitted disease, 11% thought the condoms were too much trouble, 16% thought that condoms made sex feel unnatural, and 5% thought that their partner would get angry if asked to use a condom. Those girls identified as highest risk for HIV infection were more often white, older, and with good knowledge about HIV but little motivation to reduce their risk. These findings indicate that HIV prevention interventions for girls need to involve all who are sexually active and to address motivation to change.