Young urban women's patterns of unprotected sex with men engaging in HIV risk behaviors

AIDS Behav. 2007 Nov;11(6):812-21. doi: 10.1007/s10461-006-9194-3. Epub 2006 Dec 8.


This study explored reasons women engaged in unprotected sex with male partners they distrusted and perceived to engage in HIV risk behaviors. Seven focus groups were held in public housing and neighborhood centers in the urban Northeast with 43 African American and Latina women. Content analysis was conducted by open and axial coding. Barrett's theory of power as knowing participation in change and sex script theory guided interpretation. Results indicated that Patterns of Unprotected Sex is a usual practice to maintain hope, sensuality, intimacy, strategic gain, and stability with a male partner. In low power sex scripts the salient risks of HIV were buried under an awareness of oneself as having to satisfy a man and accept cheating. High power sex scripts involved women's awareness of themselves as worthy of self care with diverse choices. High power scripts can be integrated into normative sex scripts as exemplars of more powerful ways of being and acting to reduce HIV risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Association Learning
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Gender Identity
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • HIV Infections / transmission*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Power, Psychological
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Sexual Partners*
  • Trust / psychology
  • Unsafe Sex*
  • Urban Population*