Date of Award

Fall 12-14-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Richard Rothenberg, MD, MPH

Second Advisor

Dr. Elaine Archie-Booker, Ed.D, RN



African American adolescents have a higher prevalence of risky sexual behavior compared to Hispanic and White adolescents. African American adolescents account for 65% of HIV diagnoses among individuals aged 13 to 24 years (Jackson et al., 2015). The rising rate of new STI and HIV cases remains a public health concern and the need for intervention in target populations is outstanding. The objective of this study is to measure the association between alcohol and other substance use and risky sexual behaviors in African American adolescents in the United States.


Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2015 National Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (YRBS) was used in this study. SAS 9.3 software package was used for descriptive analysis, univariate logistic regression, and multivariate logistic regression of assessing the relationship between alcohol and drug use with risky sexual behaviors in black adolescents in comparison with white adolescents.


When controlling for age, gender, and all other variables, African American adolescents that reported ever consuming alcohol were 2.2 (OR=2.2 95% CI=1.6-3.2 p= <.0001) times more likely to ever had sex, 3.8 (OR=3.8 95% CI= 2.9-4.9 p= <.0001) times more likely to have had sex with 4 or more people in the past 3 months, and 1.3 (OR=1.3 95% CI=0.8-2.1 p= <.0001) times more likely to have had sexual intercourse with at least 4 people in their lifetime. When asked if they ever used marijuana, adolescents that reported at least once were 4.5 (OR=4.5 95% CI= 3.2-6.5 p=<.0001) likely to have engaged in sexual intercourse, 3.8 (OR=3.8 95% CI=2.6-5.5 p= <.0001) times more likely to have had sex with four or more people in the past 3 months, and 6.1 (OR=6.1 95% CI=3.7-10.2 p= <.0001) times more likely to have at least 4 sexual partners in their lifetime.


The findings of this study indicate that use of illicit substances does increase risky sexual behaviors in African American Adolescents. Further implications of this study can be utilized in the development of intervention programs. Intervention programs should target African American adolescents that engage in risky sexual behaviors and any substance use.