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Gender rules as barriers to risk reduction for black women.
Fullilove M; Fullilove R; Haynes K; Gross SA; Multicultural Inquiry and
September 30, 1990
Int Conf AIDS. 1989 Jun 4-9;5:704 (abstract no. W.D.O.4). Unique

OBJECTIVES: This study was designed to examine gender rules that affect black women in their adoption of risk reduction behaviors. In particular, the study compared drug-using and non-drug-using women's comments about rules for sexual behaviors, drug use, and authority within relationships. METHOD: In order to examine the attitudes, beliefs and practices of women in the drug-using world, we conducted 12 focus groups with 75 black teenage and adult women, drug-users and non-drug-users, representing middle-, working- and underclass black women residing in Bayview-Hunter's Point, a black ghetto in San Francisco. The focus groups asked women participants to discuss sexual practices and drug-related behaviors. RESULTS: The women in our focus groups were able to state explicitly what they believed to be the rules of their environment. The rules for behavior reflected an awareness of strict gender roles in which women were subservient to men and had fewer privileges than men. The gender rules varied with age, socioeconomic status and drug use. Of the women who participated, those addicted to crack cocaine appeared to face not only the highest risk for infection with HIV, but also the most severely limited options for behavior change. CONCLUSION: Risk reduction must take into account black women's perception of acceptable gender behaviors. To the extent that these rules support subservience to men, women may be limited in their ability to initiate and maintain prevention activities. The degree to which this perception reflects reality, and the corresponding views of black men, deserve further study.

Adolescence Adult *Attitude *Behavior *Blacks Female *Gender Identity Human HIV Infections/*PSYCHOLOGY Interpersonal Relations Risk Factors Social Behavior Substance Abuse ABSTRACT