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Cultur Divers Ethnic Minor Psychol. 2011 Apr;17(2):217-24. doi: 10.1037/a0023243.

The impact of mental health problems and religiosity on African-American girls' HIV-risk.

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  • 1Department of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, University of Washington Bothell, WA 98011-8246, USA.


We investigated the relationship between religiosity, mental health problems, and two sexual risk behaviors-condom use and number of partners. Participants were 80 sexually active African American girls in psychiatric care and their caregivers. Results indicated differential relationships, depending on parent versus youth report. Mother's religiosity was positively related to girls' condom use and not to girls' number of partners. Controlling for other predictors in the models, mother's religiosity explained as much as 15% of the variance in girls' condom use. Whereas parent and adolescent reports of girls' depression/anxiety and rule-breaking were positively associated with number of partners, reports of aggression were associated with having fewer partners. Neither parent nor youth reports of girls' mental health problems were associated with condom use. Controlling for other predictors in the models, girls' mental health problems accounted for as much as 31% of the variance in number of partners. Findings underscore the importance of adopting an ecological framework to understand both the risk and promotive factors for sexual risk taking among troubled girls. The roles of specific aspects of psychopathology and religiosity in relation to sexual risk behavior among African American girls in psychiatric care are discussed.

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