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American Journal of Public Health Highlights: African American Girls

American Journal of Public Health Highlights: June 2009

Newswise —

The articles below will be published online April 16, 2009, at 4 p.m. (ET) by the American Journal of Public Health under “First Look” at, and they are currently scheduled to appear in the April 2009 print issue of the Journal. “First Look” articles have undergone peer review, copyediting and approval by authors but have not yet been printed to paper or posted online by issue. The American Journal of Public Health is published by the American Public Health Association,, and is available at

(1) Sexual behavior of African American adolescent girls and young women affected by fear of abuse

A new study finds that the fear of abuse may heighten the risk of possible acquisition of a sexually transmitted infection (STI) among adolescent girls and young women as negotiating condom use diminishes.

Researchers examined the interactive effects of fear of abuse and knowledge of STIs on sexual risk behaviors in a sample of 715 African American young adult women, aged 15 to 21 years. They found that 75% of these young adult women reported inconsistent condom use in the past 60 days. Under relatively higher levels of fear, young adult women with high levels of STI knowledge were more likely than were those with low STI knowledge to exhibit inconsistent condom use in the past 60 days and during the last sexual intercourse with a main sexual partner.

“Our findings highlight the need for combining dating violence prevention activities with STI and HIV prevention programs targeting African American adolescent girls and young women,” suggest the study’s authors.

[From: “Effects of Fear of Abuse and Possible STI Acquisition on the Sexual Behavior of African American Adolescent Girls and Young Women.” Contact: Jerris L. Raiford, PhD, Rollins School of Public Health, Dept of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Emory University, Atlanta,].

(2) Mother like daughter: maternal attitude toward prevention a factor in whether or not daughter vaccinated for HPV

Mothers’ attitudes toward prevention efforts strongly influence their daughters’ human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine uptake among their daughters.

Researchers investigated whether maternal attitude toward prevention, as indicated by history of seeking Pap tests and contracting sexually transmitted infections, influenced HPV vaccine uptake among their adolescent daughters. Researchers paired the electronic health records of girls, aged 9 to 17 years, with the records of their mothers; they were a total of 148,350 mother-daughter pairs. They found that mothers’ testing history was associated with daughters’ likelihood for vaccination across ethnic and neighborhood socioeconomic strata. Researchers thereby concluded that mothers’ attitude toward prevention may influence HPV vaccine uptake among adolescent girls.

The study’s authors stated, “Our findings suggest that mothers’ attitudes toward preventative measures are one of the factors determining whether their daughters receive a nonmandatory vaccine against HPV infection and comply with its recommended 3-dose regimen.”

[From: “Papanicolaou Screening Behavior in Mothers and Human Papillomavirus Vaccine Uptake in Adolescent Girls” Contact: Chun Chao, PhD, Kaiser Permanente, Pasadena, CA,].

(3) Social network strategy helps reach high risk populations with undiagnosed HIV infection

The use of social networks is an effective method for reaching persons with undiagnosed HIV infection, a new study finds.

Researchers evaluated the use of social networks to reach persons with undiagnosed HIV infection in ethnic minority communities and link them to medical care and HIV prevention services. Nine community-based organizations in seven cities (San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Lafayette, Boston, New York City, Orlando and Philadelphia) were funded by the CDC to enlist HIV-positive persons to refer others from their social, sexual, or drug-using networks for HIV testing; to provide HIV counseling, testing and referral services; and to link HIV-positive and high-risk HIV-negative persons to appropriate medical care and prevention services. From 2003-2005, 422 recruiters referred 3,172 of their peers for HIV services. Of the 177 determined to be HIV positive, 63% (111 persons) were successfully linked to medical care and prevention services.

According to the authors, the findings “show that a peer-driven, network-orientated strategy can be a powerful tool for identifying persons with undiagnosed HIV infection in populations that may be difficult to reach with other methods.”

[From: “Accessing Social Networks with High Rates of Undiagnosed HIV Infection: The Social Networks Demonstration Project” Contact: Lisa W. Kimbrough, MS, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta,].

The American Journal of Public Health is the monthly Journal of the American Public Health Association (APHA), the oldest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world. APHA is a leading publisher of books and periodicals promoting sound scientific standards, action programs and public policy to enhance health. More information is available at

Complimentary online access to the journal is available to credentialed members of the media. Address inquiries to Patricia Warin at APHA, 202-777-2511, or via e-mail, A single print issue of the Journal is available for $25 from the Journal’s Subscriptions department at If you are not a member of the press, a member of APHA or a subscriber, online single issue access is $20 and online single article access is $15 at If you would like to order or renew a subscription, visit, or for direct customer service, call 202-777-2516 or e-mail

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