Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention

RAP Time

(Volume 3, No. 7, July 2, 1999)

Issue Contents

Many High-Risk Rural Youth Consider AIDS as Most Important Health Issue

Adolescents are at risk for HIV infection because of behavioral, social and economic factors. The HIV epidemic has spread to rural areas which have the socioeconomic problems and risk behaviors that can lead to HIV infection. Few studies on HIV-related variables of rural youth have been conducted.

The study determined the knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and programmatic suggestions for HIV prevention among a sample of high-risk, rural youth.

Sample and Methodology
A qualitative study was conducted using focus group methodology to assess the variables among four types of high-risk, rural youth: incarcerated/detained youth, homeless/runaway youth, school aged youth, and alcohol and other drug-using youth (in school). Subjects were from eight counties of a predominately rural southeastern state.

Outcomes of the Study
The mean age was 14.9 years. Of the 82 participants, 44 were male with 37 being female. Eighty-six percent were African-American and 10% were White. Seventy percent had had sexual intercourse, about two-thirds reported ever having smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol, and 2% reported ever having injected drugs.

Major findings include:

  • AIDS and "getting diseases" were mentioned most frequently as the most important health issue. Other important issues were drugs, alcohol and marijuana use, crime and violence, dying, and pregnancy.
  • Many worried about acquiring HIV/AIDS.
  • A few believed that there is a cure for AIDS. But, most knew no cure existed.
  • Participants possessed basic knowledge regarding HIV transmission.
  • Some had misconceptions/myths about how one could determine if someone was infected with HIV.
  • Both genders recommended abstinence and condoms for protection from HIV infection.
  • Males tended to view females from a sexual point of view. Females were concerned about being used sexually and not being respected.
  • For possible HIV education program location, community center, gym, church, town hall, neighborhood and schools were suggested.
  • For possible HIV educators, persons with AIDS, those with experience in the AIDS field, and peers were suggested.
  • Suggestions for advertising an HIV program included flyers, TV and newspapers ads, radio spots, and word of mouth.

Implications for Prevention
Study results determined components of rural youth HIV education programs: skills building, negotiating skills, increasing awareness of HIV/AIDS, cultural appropriateness, and interaction with persons with HIV/AIDS. Further, the study suggested peer education programs in schools, correctional institutions, and youth, community and religious organizations.

SOURCE: Sy, F. S., et al. (1999). Using focus groups in developing HIV prevention strategies for youth in rural communities. Journal of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Education for Adolescents & Children, 2(2/3), 73-89.

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High Risk Behavior Found Among HIV-Positive IDUs

Research is needed to understand the HIV risk behavior among injection drug users (IDUs). Forty-six HIV-positive persons with a history of IDU participated in a study assessing HIV risk variables related to IDU and sexual behavior.

This research found high levels of risky behavior. Over one-half had practiced IDU since HIV-positive diagnosis. Over 40% of those who had recently injected drugs had shared unclean needles during the past 2 months. Nearly 75% reported engaging in unprotected sexual intercourse following their HIV diagnosis.

Participants knew about HIV prevention, but some reported deficits in prevention behavior skills. Some assumed that their needle use and sexual partners were already HIV-positive.

Interventions that account for factors identified in this study are more likely to be effective in changing, and maintaining, HIV risk behavior in seropositive IDUs.

SOURCE: Fisher, J. D., et al. (1999). Dynamics of HIV risk behavior in HIV-infected injection drug users. AIDS and Behavior, 3, 41-57.

AIDS Ranked Most Important Concern by Low Income Women

Low-income women face many threats to their health. Compared to men, they are more vulnerable to diseases and have less access to healthcare services.

This study assessed the priorities of 161 low-income, urban women from Syracuse, New York regarding their perceptions of the threat associated with 48 health and social problems. Participants were mainly young (mean age=26.8 years), African American (85%), never married (70%), and mothers (92%).

AIDS was the most important concern for the women. AIDS was rated as significantly more important than any of the four categories (somatic health, mental health, social concerns, relationship concerns), as well as more important than 44 of the remaining 47 concerns.

The study underscores the importance of addressing health problems, including HIV, in the context of other social problems.

SOURCE: Carey, M. P. , et al. (1999). HIV and AIDS relative to other health, social, and relationship concerns among low-income urban women: A brief report. Journal of Women's Health & Gender-Based Medicince, 8, 657-661.

Sex-Related Risk Similar among Rural and Urban Residents

Among a national sample of 12,381 U.S. adults, no differences were found in percentage of rural and urban residents participating in five sex-related behaviors. Residents of large metropolitan areas reported more drug-related risk. In total, 2.8% were classified as having increased risk for HIV through sexual behavior.

SOURCE: Anderson, J. E., et al. (1999). Prevalence of sexual and drug-related HIV risk behaviors in the U.S. adult population: Results of the 1996 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, 21, 148-156.

Parent-Teenger Talk Depends on Parents

The influence on teenagers of parent-teenage discussions about sexuality and sexual risk depends on both what parents say and how they say it. SOURCE: Whitaker, D. J., et al. (1999). Teenage partner's communication about sexual risk and condom use: The importance of parent-teenager discussions. Family Planning Perspectives, 31, 117-121.