African‐American Fathers' Perspectives on Facilitators and Barriers to Father–Son Sexual Health Communication

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When compared to other races, African‐American males ages 13 through 24 are disproportionately affected by sexually transmitted infections. They account for over half of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections among all youth in the United States (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2014; Satterwhite et al., 2013). Sexual risk behavior is higher among Black young men than their counterparts: African‐Americans public high school students engaged in more at‐risk sexual behaviors than White students over time (Fergus, Zimmerman, & Caldwell, 2007), and young African‐American males had a much higher likelihood than young White males of having sexual intercourse for the first time before they were 13 years old (13.9% vs. 3.9%) and of having had intercourse with four or more persons during their lifetimes (24.8% vs. 13.1%; CDC YRBS, 2012). Due to this disparity, attention on African‐American male preadolescents and adolescents is essential.
Parent–youth sexual health communication has been found effective in addressing this disparity. Sons who talk to their fathers about sexual health have higher rates of sexual abstinence, condom use, and the intent to delay initiation of sexual intercourse (Akers, Schwarz, Borrero, & Corbie‐Smith, 2010; Coley, Votruba‐Drzal, & Schindler, 2009; Dilorio, McCarty, Resnicow, Lehr, & Denzmore, 2007; Guilamo‐Ramos et al., 2012; Harris, Sutherland, & Hutchinson, 2013). Nonetheless, most research to date on sexual health communication has focused on parent‐daughter communication and on mothers as sexual health educators, and studies that included African‐American fathers have had a broader focus. For example, Wilson, Dalberth, and Koo (2010) conducted 16 focus group discussions with parents of children 10–12 to explore fathers' views of their roles in protecting their preteen age youth from sexual risk and their role in promoting youth's healthy sexual development, but only two groups were of only African‐American fathers. Although fathers have an effect on sexual debut and condom use of their adolescents, further exploration of African‐American fathers' influence on sexual health communication and behavior is needed (Burns & Caldwell, 2016; Glenn, Demi, & Kimble, 2008; Julion, Gross, Barclay‐McLaughlin, & Fogg, 2007; Wilson et al., 2010). Having an understanding of why fathers may or may not discuss sexual health issues with their sons could lead to future socially and culturally congruent interventions aimed at supporting African‐American fathers to be effective sexual health educators.
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