Safe sex practices among African American women

Motivations for sex among low-income African American young women

From Health Education and Behavior

Researchers have found that African American women exhibit a higher risk for sexually transmitted infections including HIV/Aids. But what motivates this group of women to have sex? And when are they more likely to use protection? This study reveals that regardless of motivations for having sex, condom use expectations were less than 50% for all types of sexual encounters, including the riskiest types of sex. Researchers used a combination of interviews and focus groups to conduct the study. Participants were African American women with low incomes who had had an average of 1.2 sexual partners in the past month, with an average age of 20.4 years old. “Findings highlight the need for tailored interventions to increase condom use in casual relationships, where perceived risk is already high, and in primary relationships, where motivations for condom use may be low.” the authors wrote. “Interventions that address mediators of sexual risk, including self-esteem and coping, may be more effective than those focusing solely on risk perceptions.”


African American young women exhibit higher risk for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, compared with European American women, and this is particularly true for African American women living in low-income contexts. We used rigorous qualitative methods, that is, domain analysis, including free listing (n = 20), similarity assessment (n = 25), and focus groups (four groups), to elicit self-described motivations for sex among low-income African American young women (19-22 years). Analyses revealed six clusters: Love/Feelings, For Fun, Curiosity, Pressured, For Money, and For Material Things. Focus groups explored how African American women interpreted the clusters in light of condom use expectations. Participants expressed the importance of using condoms in risky situations, yet endorsed condom use during casual sexual encounters less than half the time. This study highlights the need for more effective intervention strategies to increase condom use expectations among low-income African American women, particularly in casual relationships where perceived risk is already high.

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Article details
Deardorff, J., Suleiman, A., Dal Santo, T., Flythe, M., Gurdin, J., & Eyre, S. (2013). Motivations for Sex Among Low-Income African American Young Women Health Education & Behavior DOI: 10.1177/1090198112473112

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