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An exploration of the determinants of sexual behavior in rural youth at risk for heterosexual transmission of HIV.
Donovan C; Cook J; Community Health Eastern Region, Newfoundland,
December 30, 1998
Int Conf AIDS. 1998;12:1012 (abstract no. 60061). Unique Identifier :

OBJECTIVES: To explore factors such as: self-perception; community norms; gender power balance; sexuality knowledge acquisition and social interactions; and their relationship to perceived ability to control behavior, attitudes and intentions, and actual behavior among youth in a rural community with a high incidence of HIV infection compared to youth in communities without evidence of HIV infection. METHOD: Focus groups consisting of 6-8 participants were conducted with male and female students from ages 9 to 18 years divided into 3 age groups, in the case community and 2 control communities. A questionnaire with 71 questions was self-administered in schools in the 3 communities. Qualitative data was analyzed using NUD.IST. SPSS was used in the analysis of quantitative data. RESULTS: 27 focus groups were conducted and 625 students responded to the questionnaires. 13% of junior high and 49% of senior high school students were sexually active. Most respondents felt they could protect themselves from HIV, yet unsafe sexually practices were widely reported, as were attitudes and social practices that could impair their abilities. Students in the case community expressed more positive attitudes towards protective behaviors. Sexual stereotypes persist in relation to behaviors, and responsibilities and although girls tend to be more ambitious than boys at all ages, older girls express less confidence in themselves and their abilities in interpersonal relationships than either younger girls or their male peers. CONCLUSION: Risk behavior is still prevalent. Young people have confidence that they can protect themselves from HIV but this conflicts with their report reluctance to talk about sex and negotiate safer sex. Preventive activity in the case community has had a positive impact on attitudes and behavior. The issue of the evolution of confidence as girls age must be examined and addressed.

MEETING ABSTRACTS Adolescence Child Female Focus Groups Human HIV Infections/PREVENTION & CONTROL/PSYCHOLOGY/*TRANSMISSION Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice Male Newfoundland Risk Factors *Rural Population *Sex Behavior Sex Education