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J Assoc Nurses AIDS Care. 2001 Mar-Apr;12(2):56-65.

The sexual behaviors of African American women living with HIV disease: is perceived HIV status altering sexual behavior?


The purpose of the study was to compare the sexual risk behaviors of heterosexual African American women living with HIV disease to women who perceive themselves to be HIV negative using a comparative descriptive design. Data were collected using a demographics questionnaire developed by the investigator and the Safe Sex Behavior Questionnaire (SSBQ). The HIV-positive sample was collected in two public service agencies that provide case management for HIV-positive individuals. The HIV-negative sample was collected in the surrounding community, populated primarily by low-income African Americans. The HIV-positive group demonstrated lower levels of income and education. Scores on the SSBQ indicated no statistical difference between the high-risk sexual behaviors of the HIV-positive and HIV-negative groups. No statistically significant difference was found in the reported past sexual experiences of the two groups, although mean SSBQ scores were higher in the HIV-positive group. The levels of sexual behaviors in both groups were consistent with the high-risk sexual behaviors of HIV-negative persons reported in the literature. This illustrates the need for nursing as a profession to improve programs directed toward altering the behaviors of those at high risk of contracting or transmitting HIV disease.

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