Health> Vol.6 No.13, July 2014

The Power of Partners: A Qualitative Study of the Dissonance between African-American Females’ Interest in Practicing Secondary Abstinence and Continued Sexual Activity

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ABSTRACT

Reducing disparities in STI/HIV rates for young heterosexual African-American women in the US is a public health priority. Although several strategies can reduce risk, some sexually experienced young women are choosing to abstain from sex for various reasons and periods of time following sexual debut, a practice known as secondary abstinence. However, others who desire to practice secondary abstinence find it difficult to do so. This qualitative study explored barriers that explained the dissonance between interest in secondary abstinence and continued sexual activity. In-depth interviews were conducted with 20 sexually-experienced African-American adolescent females, ages 18 - 23, who expressed interest in secondary abstinence. Partner-related barriers that created power imbalances presented the greatest challenges to becoming or remaining abstinent. Findings suggest that teaching young women how to recognize characteristics of healthy and unhealthy relationships, identify power imbalances, communicate assertively and develop positive coping skills can empower young women to build healthier relationships with their partners.

Cite this paper

Bradley, E. , Elifson, K. , Sales, J. and DiClemente, R. (2014) The Power of Partners: A Qualitative Study of the Dissonance between African-American Females’ Interest in Practicing Secondary Abstinence and Continued Sexual Activity. Health, 6, 1581-1588. doi: 10.4236/health.2014.613191.

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