Associations between neighborhood characteristics and sexual risk behaviors among HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected women in the southern United States

Ann Epidemiol. 2017 Apr;27(4):252-259.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2017.03.004. Epub 2017 Apr 10.


Purpose: Neighborhood characteristics shape sexual risk in HIV-uninfected adults in the United States (US). We assess relationships between census tract characteristics and sexual risk behaviors in a predominantly HIV-infected cohort of women living in the Southern US.

Methods: This cross-sectional multilevel analysis included data from 737 HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected women enrolled in the Women's Interagency HIV Study. Administrative data captured characteristics of census tracts where women lived; participant-level data were gathered via survey. We used principal components analysis to condense tract-level variables into components: social disorder (e.g., violent crime rate), and social disadvantage (e.g., alcohol outlet density). We used hierarchical generalized linear models to assess relationships between tract-level characteristics and condomless vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse, and condomless anal intercourse.

Results: Greater social disorder was associated with less anal intercourse (OR = 0.63, 95% CI = 0.43-0.94) and condomless anal intercourse (OR = 0.49, 95% CI = 0.30-0.80), regardless of HIV status. There were no statistically significant additive or multiplicative interactions between tract characteristics and HIV status.

Conclusions: Neighborhood characteristics are associated with sexual risk behaviors among women living in the Southern US, these relationships do not vary by HIV status. Future studies should establish temporality and explore the causal pathways through which neighborhoods influence sexual risk.

Keywords: HIV; Multilevel analysis; Residence characteristics; Sexual behavior; Women.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Crime / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • HIV Seronegativity
  • Humans
  • Residence Characteristics* / statistics & numerical data
  • Southeastern United States / epidemiology
  • Unsafe Sex / statistics & numerical data*