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Assessment of sexually transmitted disease/HIV risk among young African Americans: comparison of self-perceived and epidemiological risks utilizing ecodevelopmental theory

Authors Li YH, Mgbere O, Abughosh S, Chen H, Cuccaro P, Smesny A, Essien EJ

Received 2 October 2018

Accepted for publication 14 January 2019

Published 20 February 2019 Volume 2019:11 Pages 31—44

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/HIV.S189482

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Colin Mak

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Bassel Sawaya


Ya-Huei Li,1 Osaro Mgbere,1–3 Susan Abughosh,1 Hua Chen,1 Paula Cuccaro,4 Andrea Smesny,1 Ekere James Essien1,3,4

1Department of Pharmaceutical Health Outcomes and Policy, College of Pharmacy, University of Houston, Houston, TX, USA; 2Disease Prevention and Control Division, Houston Health Department, Houston, TX, USA; 3Institute of Community Health, University of Houston, Houston, TX, USA; 4Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, TX, USA

Background: Recent advances in understanding the developmental processes associated with adolescents warrant new thinking and systematic application of key concepts of risk and protective processes. This study examined the association between epidemiological and self-perceived risks of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)/HIV among young African Americans (AAs) and the multilevel factors identified using ecodevelopmental theory.
Methods: A retrospective cross-sectional study was conducted on wave 1 data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health comprising 1,619 AA youth aged 14–18 years. Epidemiological and self-perceived HIV-risk indices were developed and their associations with ecodevelopmental system parameters evaluated.
Results: Significant discordance (P<0.0001) in the youths’ self-perceived risk and epidemiological risk (the “gold standard”) was recorded with Cohen’s k-coefficient of 0.144 (95% CI 0.104–0.193). Adolescents who felt like talking to their mother had no trouble getting along with schoolteachers, perceived that teachers treated student fairly, experienced mother’s disapproval of their sexual debut, and had close friends who knew how to use condoms correctly, were positively related to low epidemiological risk of contracting STDs/HIV. Being older, male, and a mother’s positive attitude toward their adolescent’s use of birth control (in exosystem) were associated with high epidemiological risk of contracting STDs/HIV. Furthermore, poor connection with the mother (did not feel like talking to mother) and growing older were related to low accuracy of self-risk perception among AA youths.
Conclusion: The findings demonstrate the strong need to align self-perceived risk with epidemiological risk of acquiring STDs/HIV using the key multilevel ecodevelopmental system factors identified. This will require changes in relevant social attitudes and norms associated with risk measurement, and allow for a rational basis for safe health practices and behaviors among AA youths.

Keywords: self-perceived risk, epidemiological risk, STDs/HIV, ecodevelopmental theory, modeling, risk index, African American youths

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