Health risk behaviors in an urban sample of young women who have sex with women

J Lesbian Stud. 2010;14(1):80-92. doi: 10.1080/10894160903060440.


We examined the prevalence of sexual and substance use behaviors among a group of young women who have sex with women (WSW) aged 16 to 24. A convenience sample of 137 young WSW participants completed a confidential survey that included demographics, substance use, and sexual risk behaviors. Descriptive analyses were used to interpret the data. Comparisons were made between rates of risk behaviors in this sample and non-sexual minority youth in a national dataset. The mean age of participants was 19.6 (SD = 2.3) and 59% were from communities of color. Participants reported a history of risky behaviors including anal intercourse with men (26%), monthly binge drinking (22%), pregnancy (20%), and tobacco use (54%). These findings highlight the need for health promotion interventions aimed at reducing risky health behaviors in this highly vulnerable and underserved sub-population of young women.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology
  • Attitude to Health
  • Bisexuality / psychology*
  • Chicago
  • Female
  • Homosexuality, Female / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Social Environment
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urban Population
  • Young Adult