The purposes of this study were to determine the consistency in sexually active adolescent girls' self-report of sexual history and to examine their perceptions of providing sexual history information in an interview. Twenty-two adolescent girls (86% black and 14% white) were recruited from an outpatient dysplasia clinic to be interviewed 2 weeks apart. The interview consisted of questions regarding sexual history and whether they viewed their age at first intercourse as too young, too old, or appropriate. After the second interview they were asked whether there were any questions for which they thought other teenagers would be tempted not to tell the truth and any questions that were too embarrassing. Significant correlations between visits were seen for each sexual history variable. Girls described number of sexual partners and sexually transmitted disease history as questions to which adolescents might not be truthful. As part of sexual history taking, health care providers should explore with adolescent girls their perceptions of their history and address any concerns the girls have that might lead to inaccuracies or prevent the girls from obtaining appropriate anticipatory guidance.
"Since scholarly debates on methodology in sex research in the 1990s, there has been little reflection on the limitations of applied methods and of the validity of the data obtained in studies of sexuality and HIV prevention. Researchers at the time pointed to the limitations of quantitative methods in sex research (Abramson 1990, 1992, Bolton 1998, Ulin 1992, Vance 1991), the importance of developing interview techniques that fit the topics under study (Van Gelder 1996) and the significance of using a variety of methods to gather valid information on sexuality, which is universally regarded as an intimate, sensitive and taboo-ridden issue (Parker, Herdt and Carballo 1991, Rosenthal et al. 1996). There is a need to revisit some of these reflections in order to improve methods and research designs through which issues can be approached more productively. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite the urgency of improving an understanding of sexual cultures in the face of a globally devastating HIV epidemic, methodological reflection and innovation has been conspicuously absent from qualitative research in recent years. Findings from fieldwork on condom use among young people in Mozambique confirm the need to remain alert to the ideological and linguistic bias of applied methods. Interviewing young people about their sexuality using a conventional health discourse resulted in incorrect or socially acceptable answers rather than accurate information about their sexual behaviour. Young people's resistance to enquiry, the paper argues, is due to ideological contradictions between their sexual culture and slang, on the one hand, and Western health discourses associated with colonial and post-colonial opposition to traditional culture and languages, on the other. Mixing colloquial Portuguese and changana sexual slang is constructed around ideas of safedeza and pleasure, while dominant health discourses address sexuality as both 'risky' and 'dangerous'. In order to gain a deeper understanding of sexual cultures and to make HIV prevention efforts relevant to young people, it is suggested that researchers and policy makers approach respondents with a language that is sensitive to the local ideological and linguistic context.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To elucidate which components of peer norms influence the process of sexual initiation for young adolescents. Design. Prospective cohort study. Setting. Fourteen elementary and middle schools in an urban public school district. Participants. The 1389 sixth-grade students who completed the questionnaire at the beginning (time 1) and at the end (time 2) of the school year comprise the study sample. Mean age at time 1 was 11.7 years.
Of students entering the sixth grade, 30% (n = 416) reported having already initiated sexual intercourse, 5% (n = 74) reported initiating sexual intercourse during the sixth-grade school year (initiated group), and 63% (n = 873) reported not having initiated sexual intercourse by the end of the sixth-grade school year (never group). Demographic comparisons revealed that students in the initiated group were significantly more likely than students in the never group to be older (11.9 years vs 11.6 years), male (58% vs 37%), African-American (70% vs 51%), attending a poorer school (87% vs 85%), and living in an area with a high proportion of single-parent families (45% vs 41%). Self-reports and reports of peers' participation in nonsexual risk behaviors were more common for students in the initiated group. Students in the initiated group were more likely than students in the never group to perceive: 1) a high prevalence of sexual initiation among peers; 2) social gains associated with early sexual intercourse; and 3) younger age of peers' sexual initiation. Students in the never group were more likely to believe that sexually-experienced 12-year-old boys would be negatively stigmatized compared with students in the initiated group. Three predictive models were developed to test the relationship between peer norms and the process of initiation. These models demonstrate that the strongest predictor of sexual initiation in sixth grade is having high intention to do so at the beginning of sixth grade. The strongest predictor of high intention is belief that most friends have already had sexual intercourse. Perceptions of social gain and stigma for sexually-experienced 12-year-old boys act independently of intention to decrease risk of early sexual initiation.
Early sexual intercourse is not an unplanned experience for many teens. Decisions about initiation are strongly bound to social context with peers playing an important role in creating a sense of normative behavior. Specific components of peer norms impact the process of sexual initiation in both positive and negative ways. Interventions aimed at delaying the onset of sexual initiation need to focus on cohort norms as well as on an individual's perceptions and behaviors.
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