Racial Discrimination and HIV-related Risk Behaviors in Southeast Louisiana

Am J Health Behav. 2016 Jan;40(1):132-43. doi: 10.5993/AJHB.40.1.15.


Objectives: We examined the relationship between cumulative experiences of racial discrimination and HIV-related risk taking, and whether these relationships are mediated through alcohol use among African Americans in semi-rural southeast Louisiana.

Methods: Participants (N = 214) reported on experiences of discrimination, HIV sexual risk-taking, history of sexually transmitted infection (STI), and health behaviors including alcohol use in the previous 90 days. Experiences of discrimination (scaled both by frequency of occurrence and situational counts) as a predictor of a sexual risk composite score as well as a history of STI was assessed using multivariate linear and logistic regression, respectively, including tests for mediation by alcohol use.

Results: Discrimination was common in this cohort, with respondents confirming their experience on average 7 of the 9 potential situations and on more than 34 separate occasions. After adjustment, discrimination was significantly associated with increasing sexual risk-taking and lifetime history of STI when measured either by frequency of occurrence or number of situations, although there was no evidence that these relationships were mediated through alcohol use.

Conclusions: Cumulative experiences of discrimination may play a significant role in sexual risk behavior and consequently increase vulnerability to HIV and other STIs.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / ethnology*
  • Black or African American / ethnology*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections*
  • Humans
  • Louisiana / ethnology
  • Male
  • Racism / ethnology*
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Sexual Behavior / ethnology*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / ethnology*