Sexual decision-making in college women
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Human immunodeficiency virus is increasingly becoming a significant problem in younger populations. HIV has become an increasing health risk among young adult women, reflecting the necessity to examine factors contributing to both the increase and decrease of HIV-risk behavior. The present study examined the role of relationship type on women’s sexual decision-making and HIV-risk behavior. Other contextual variables and interpersonal factors, such as self-efficacy, risk perception, alcohol use, and alcohol expectancies were also examined within the context of these specific relationships. One hundred fifty-five women participated in the study and completed measures assessing variables of interest. The results indicated that condom use self-efficacy, relationship type, alcohol use, and alcohol expectancies all emerged as important predictors of condom negotiation and condom use during various stages of a relationship and various situations. Interestingly, alcohol use and alcohol expectancies emerged as pertinent factors influencing both risky and safe sexual behavior. Given the findings from this study, increase of condom use self-efficacy, education regarding the link between alcohol, alcohol expectancies, and sexual behavior should be incorporated into prevention programs. It is possible that if individuals consistently engage in self-efficacious and safe sexual behavior, then this behavior is less likely to be “undone” by alcohol use. Finally, it seems that prevention programs should target the dyad and focus on relationship-specific information. Ideally, efforts should implement methods of teaching effective risk reduction skills that promote assertiveness but do not threaten women’s sense of security and intimacy in their relationships.