African American women: Gender Beliefs, Peer Perception, Relationship Power, and Sexual Behavior
African American women living in the U.S. face immense challenges to protect themselves from HIV infection. One in every 32 African American women is diagnosed with the disease and heterosexual contact is the primary mode of transmission. A better understanding of the African American woman’s beliefs and decisions related to safe sex practices can give direction to strategies to promote safer sexual behaviors. The purpose of this study was to explore the association of the African American woman’s attitudinal beliefs, normative beliefs, and relationship control beliefs with self-reported sexual behaviors. The Theory of Planned Behavior served as the study’s theoretical framework, supporting the premise beliefs are precursors to explanations and understanding human behavior.
Using a cross-sectional, correlational design, a convenience sample of 95 African American women from the southeastern United States was obtained. Results confirmed a statistically significant 1) positive relationship between gender role beliefs and relationship power, (r = 0.354, p < .001); 2) negative relationship between gender ratio imbalance beliefs and relationship power, (r = -0.472, p < 0.001); 3) positive association between relationship power and avoidance of risky sexual behavior, (r = 0.340, p = 0.001); 4) negative correlation between gender ratio imbalance beliefs and risky sexual behaviors, (r = -0.235, p = 0.022); and 5) positive correlation between safer sexual behavior and peer perceptions of safer sex behaviors, (r = 0.475, p < 0.001). Results from a stepwise multiple regression indicated that relationship power (p = 0.001) and peer perception (p < 0.001) were significant predictors of sexual behavior, accounting for 31% (p < 0.001) of the variance.