Predictors of Abstinence, Safer Sex & Higher Risk Sexual Behaviors At A Historically Black College & University

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In this cross sectional study, purposive sampling was used to examine the sexual behaviors and practices of African American college age students (n=681) attending a Mid-Atlantic HBCU. The majority of participants were women (72%) and sexually attracted to men (69%); the mean age was 20 (SD=1.3). The primary purpose of this research was to explore specific factors that may contribute to African American college students' decisions to practice abstinence, engage in safer sex or higher risk sexual practices. The Theory of Planned Behavior loosely guided the selection of variables, specifically normative beliefs, attitudes and behavioral control constructs were used to examine the sexual behaviors of African American college students. Binge drinking, marijuana use, the number of hours per day students' listened to rap music and viewed rap music videos, and the extent rap music or rap music videos influenced their sexual attitudes were variables examined using backward logistic regression. Additionally, the investigator examined religiosity and students' perceptions of whether peers and parents would approve of their engagement in specific sexual behaviors, using valid and reliable scales developed by other researchers. Demographic variables explored included age, gender and the students' sexual orientation. Results from research question one (predicting whether students would be abstinent or sexually active) indicated age, marijuana use, and binge drinking were the best predictors, accounting for 22% of the variance. Students who reported binge drinking or marijuana use were more liked to report being sexually active than students not engaging in these behaviors. Research question two (distinguishing between sexually active students who engage in safer vs. riskier sexual behaviors) found that sexual orientation was the only significant predictor. The study documented greater sexual risk-taking behaviors among heterosexual women when compared to heterosexual males. This exploratory study helps fill the void in the literature about the sexual behaviors of African American college students.