Neighborhood Factors and their Influence on Adolescent Females' Perceptions of STD, HIV/AIDS, and Pregnancy Risk.

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Title: Neighborhood Factors and their Influence on Adolescent Females' Perceptions of STD, HIV/AIDS, and Pregnancy Risk.
Author: Baker, Alison Mary
Advisors: Rupert Nacoste, Committee Co-Chair
Mary Wyer, Committee Member
Craig Brookins, Committee Chair
Abstract: Teenage sexual behavior is a serious public health concern in the United States due to risks for STDs, and HIV⁄AIDS. In addition, adolescent pregnancy imposes great taxpayer and other social costs to society. Previous research has shown that neighborhood characteristics influence adolescent females' sexual risk perceptions and behaviors. However, neighborhood characteristics have rarely been compared to adolescents' perceptions of their own neighborhoods when examining perceptions of STDs, HIV⁄AIDS, or pregnancy. In fact, it is reasonable to explore the degree to which adolescents in certain neighborhood contexts may perceive pregnancy as an adaptive strategy. This study uses longitudinal data from the in-home interviews of the National Adolescent Health Survey Wave 1 to examine neighborhood characteristics, adolescent females' perceptions of their neighborhood, attitudes towards STDs, HIV, and pregnancy, and parent perceptions of the neighborhood. The results show significant between group mean differences for adolescents' females' living in neighborhoods with high poverty rates for their perceptions toward chances of contracting an STD. In addition, adolescent females living in neighborhoods with high rates of unemployment and high proportions of young children yielded higher perceptions of risk of AIDS without protection. Adolescent females' perceptions of safety in their neighborhood predicted perceptions of risk towards pregnancy; however, neighborhood perceptions did not significantly predict any other perceptions of risk. Neighborhood perceptions did not mediate the relationship between neighborhood characteristics and perceptions of risk for STDs, HIV⁄AIDS, or pregnancy. Lastly, favorable perceptions about pregnancy as a life event were predicted by high proportions of young children in the neighborhood, with less favorable perceptions predicted by low unemployment and perceptions the neighborhood as a safe place.
Date: 2008-08-20
Degree: MS
Discipline: Psychology

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