Identifying Psychosocial and Social Correlates of Sexually Transmitted Diseases Among Black Female Teenagers

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Abstract

Background

Black teenagers have relatively high rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and recent research suggests the role of contextual factors, as well as risk behaviors. We explore the role of 4 categories of risk and protective factors on having a biologically confirmed STD among black, female teenagers.

Methods

Black teenage girls (14–19 years old) accessing services at a publicly funded family planning clinic provided a urine specimen for STD testing and completed an audio computer-assisted self-interview that assessed the following: risk behaviors, relationship characteristics, social factors, and psychosocial factors. We examined bivariate associations between each risk and protective factor and having gonorrhea and/or chlamydia, as well as multivariate logistic regression among 339 black female teenagers.

Results

More than one-fourth (26.5%) of participants had either gonorrhea and/or chlamydia. In multivariate analyses, having initiated sex before age 15 (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.87) and having concurrent sex partners in the past 6 months (aOR, 1.55) were positively associated with having an STD. Living with her father (aOR, 0.44), believing that an STD is the worst thing that could happen (aOR, 0.50), and believing she would feel dirty and embarrassed about an STD (aOR, 0.44) were negatively associated with having an STD.

Conclusions

Social factors and attitudes toward STDs and select risk behaviors were associated with the risk for STDs, suggesting the need for interventions that address more distal factors. Future studies should investigate how such factors influence safer sexual behaviors and the risk for STDs among black female teenagers.

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