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Public Health Nurs. 2016 Mar-Apr;33(2):139-50. doi: 10.1111/phn.12216. Epub 2015 Jul 16.

The Role of Sexual Health Professionals in Developing a Shared Concept of Risky Sexual Behavior as it Relates to HIV Transmission.

Author information

  • 1Department of Nursing, Center for Health Equity Research and Center for Global Women's Health, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • 2Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, Department of Community Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.
  • 3Center for Health Equity Research and Center for Global Women's Health, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • 4Department of Urban Public Health & Nutrition, School of Nursing & Health Sciences, La Salle University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Abstract

"Risky sexual behavior" accounts for the majority of new HIV infections regardless of gender, age, geographic location, or ethnicity. The phrase, however, refers to a relatively nebulous concept that hampers development of effective sexual health communication strategies. The purpose of this paper was to propose development of a shared conceptual understanding of "risky sexual behavior." We reviewed multidisciplinary HIV/AIDS literature to identify definitions of risky sexual behavior. Both the linguistic components and the social mechanisms that contribute to the concept of risky sexual behaviors were noted. Risky sexual behavior was often defined in a subjective manner in the literature, even in the scientific research. We urge a paradigm shift to focus on explicit behaviors and the social context of those behaviors in determining HIV risk. We also propose a new definition that reduces individual biases and promotes a broader discussion of the degree of sexual risk across a diversity of behavioral contexts. Sexual health professionals can strengthen practice and research initiatives by operating from a concise working definition of risky sexual behavior that is broadly transferable and expands beyond a traditional focus on identity-based groups.

KEYWORDS:

HIV/AIDS; disease prevention; diversity; health promotion; patient education; prevention; programme planning; public health systems; sexual behavior

PMID:
26184496
PMCID:
PMC4715781
[Available on 2017-03-01]
DOI:
10.1111/phn.12216
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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