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Safer sex: Social & psychological predictors of behavioral maintenance and change among heterosexual women.
Ickovics JR; Morrill AC; Golubchikov VV; Beren SE; Rodin J; Yale
December 30, 1995
HIV Infect Women Conf. 1995 Feb 22-24;:P96. Unique Identifier : AIDSLINE

OBJECTIVES: Knowledge of social, psychological, behavioral, and demographic factors that distinguish between women who practice safer sex versus those who do not can be used to develop interventions for women at risk for HIV. This study uses a prospective longitudinal design, a diverse community- based sample, and a broad measurement framework to meet two study objectives: (a) for women whose sexual behavior was safe at baseline, to identify factors contributing to the maintenance of safe sex (vs. lapse); (b) for those whose sexual behavior was risky at baseline, to identify factors that contribute to the initiation of safe sex. METHODS: Women of diverse backgrounds from four community health clinics in Connecticut were involved in a longitudinal study (n=189). Data from structured interviews three months apart were used for these analyses. Information was collected in 4 areas: (1) sociodemographics; (2) social and psychological predictors; (3) relationship involvement/partner risk factors; and (4) sexual behavior. Eighty percent of eligible women agreed to participate; the retention rate over this 3- month period was 93.4%. RESULTS: At baseline, 46.6% (n=88) of the respondents were safe (no unprotected intercourse in the month preceding the interview), and 53.4% (n=101) were risky. Separate analyses were conducted for these two groups to determine what combination of variables best predict safe behavior at follow-up. A systematic series of multivariate analyses was conducted to select the most valuable combination of variables. Two factors were important in both final models: relationship involvement and attitudes toward condoms. Beyond this, differences in explanatory models emerged, reflecting the importance of examining behavior maintenance and change independently. Depression, health locus of control, and outcome efficacy belief made significant contributions to understanding the maintenance of safer sexual behavior. HIV counseling and testing, partner risk, and optimism helped to explain the initiation of safer sexual behavior. CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study can help guide future research and interventions for heterosexual women at risk for HIV. We must promote both the initiation and maintenance of safer sexual behavior for women, and we must continue to be vigilant about risk reduction and health promotion.

Female Health Behavior Human HIV Infections/*PREVENTION & CONTROL Longitudinal Studies Prospective Studies *Sex Behavior ABSTRACT