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J Adolesc Health. 2006 Sep;39(3):444.e1-8. Epub 2006 Jul 10.

Depressive symptoms as a predictor of sexual risk among African American adolescents and young adults.

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Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Bradley/Hasbro Children's Research Center, Rhode Island Hospital and Brown Medical School, Providence, Rhode Island 02903, USA.



To understand the prospective relationship between depressive symptoms and sexual risk behavior among a community sample of African American adolescents.


African American adolescents (n = 415) who participated in a larger multi-site human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention program provided baseline data on demographics, psychosocial context and depressive symptoms. At six-month follow-up, data were collected regarding sexual activity in the past 90 days. Multivariate logistic regression was conducted to determine the prospective relationship between depressive symptoms and proportion of condom use while controlling for relevant demographic and contextual factors.


The odds that African American adolescents who reported depressive symptoms at baseline would report inconsistent condom use at six-month follow-up was approximately four times greater than that of their peers who did not report depressive symptoms. Older adolescents and females were less likely to use condoms consistently and certain contextual factors, such as less pleasurable expectations about condom use, and living with a partner also heightened HIV/STI risk.


Clinicians should assess for depression symptoms in African American adolescent patients as an indicator of future sexual risk. Prevention interventions that address depressed mood could have a significant impact on later HIV/STI sexual risk behaviors. Further research is needed to understand the effect of depressive symptoms on sexual risk among adolescents of other race/ethnicities and to examine the potential cultural forces that affect this relationship.

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