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STI Risks Associated with Latino Adolescents' Sexual Networks


United States (Calif).

National Institute of
  Allergy and Infectious
(at the NIH)

Principal Investigator
Nancy Padian, PhD

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and pregnancy have become major health concerns in the San Francisco Bay Area Latino community, especially among adolescents: a population disadvantaged by minority status, economic disparities, and language barriers. We propose to conduct the first focused study of sexual networks among Latino youth where we also consider the effects of acculturation and ethnic identity on network membership and acquisition of STIs and pregnancy.

Additionally, recent research that has examined ways to increase the validity of self-reported HIV risk behaviors suggests that increasing the anonymity of the interview situation through use of audio computer-assisted self-interviewing (ACASI) may decrease underreporting. However, no published studies have examined these issues among Latino youth. Further, no research has assessed how acculturation and language might influence the effects of survey administration mode on validity of self-report.

Specific Aims

  • To measure the size and structure of Latino/a adolescents social and sexual networks and determine the association of network structure and membership with reproductive health outcomes (STIs and pregnancy);

  • To identify predictors of membership in high-risk sexual networks among Latino adolescents;

  • To compare the configuration properties, and mixing matrices of sexual and social networks of Latino/a adolescents with African American adolescents (using data from a companion study) ;

  • To identify accurate and acceptable ways to measure high-risk sexual behavior among Latino adolescents, and, in particular, to examine how the willingness to report sensitive information may vary across data collection modes.

Study Description

We will interview a random sample of 250 index Lationo/a adolescents, ages 14-19 years, recruited from public and private venues in the Mission District of San Francisco. The network will be derived from a snowball sample of friends and two generations of sexual partners emanating from the index subjects. Everyone enrolled will be interviewed and tested for STIs and pregnancy (females only). The cohort of subjects initially recruited from the venues and their social friends will be re-interviewed every six months for two years. Sex partners may be interviewed at subsequent visits if they are named again by the index cohort.

Using a randomized, prospective crossover design, we will compare the prevalence of HIV risk behaviors reported through two survey administration modes: ACASI and traditional pencil and paper self-administered questionnaire. At baseline, participants will be randomized to complete the behavioral and epidemiological risk assessment of their interview using one of these modes. At first follow-up, participants will complete a second questionnaire administered using the opposite mode from that with which they used to complete their baseline questionnaire.


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