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The Role of Parents in HIV-Testing Amongst Black Males

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February 4, 2020

(HOUSTON, TX) – Black adolescent males who reported having parents with positive attitudes towards sex were more likely to get tested for HIV/AIDS. Black males who perceived their parents to have negative attitudes towards sex were less likely to get tested for HIV, according to research from the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Houston (GCSW).

In the recently published study, GCSW Assistant Professor Donte Boyd gathered data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. This data, collected from 1994 to 2008, surveyed adolescents and their parents to examine the social, emotional, and physical health of each participant. With a sample size of roughly 1100 sexually active Black males, the average age of those surveyed was 16 years old.

“Black males are disproportionately affected by HIV, and make up more than one-third of all new HIV infections in the United States. According to the research, parental communication seems to be a promising way to extend the reach of preventing HIV transmission. Shedding light on new strategies in combatting the spread of HIV and STIs within marginalized communities aligns well with the vision of the GCSW because, in doing so, it provides accurate information around HIV and other STIs within these communities, and can potentially change attitudes towards sex for populations that are burdened by HIV,” said Boyd.

Black adolescent males that participated in the survey responded to a series of questions to gain a fuller picture of their environment. All participants began the study by being asked whether they had ever received a test for HIV/AIDS. Participants also responded to a series of questions about their parental support relationships. Determinants included the closeness subjects had with their mother and father, the perceived attitudes their parents had towards sex, and the overall trust their parents gave them in making decisions. Peer groups were taken into consideration as well by asking participants to see if they had ever discussed contraception and the use of condoms with friends.

The results of the study found that of those surveyed, 76% indicated that they had never received a test for HIV/AIDS, yet 58% reported using a condom their first time having sex, and the most recent time they had sexual intercourse. Another finding of the study was that parental support played a significant role in positively influencing HIV/AIDS testing. Participants with parents with supportive attitudes towards sex were 2.3 times more like to be tested for HIV/AIDS.

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The study was published on December 11, 2019, in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities.