Adolescents' perceived risk for STDs and HIV infection

Jonathan M. Ellen, Cherrie B. Boyer, Jeanne M. Tschann, Mary Ann Shafer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Purpose: (1) To determine whether adolescents systematically underestimate their relative risk for STDs and HIV; and (2) to determine to what extent anxiety about STDs and HIV, past condom use, number of lifetime partners and STD/HIV-related beliefs predict perceived relative risk. Methods: Two hundred and thirty-one sexually experienced, racially diverse, urban high school teenagers (mean age = 15.5 years; 53% male) were surveyed regarding their STD/HIV-related attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Results: The subjects did not perceive themselves to be at lower risk compared to their perceptions of the risk of other people their age for STDs or HIV. Using hierarchical multiple linear regression analysis, perceptions of lower relative risk for STDs and for HIV were predicted by higher levels of anxiety (p < .001) but not by past condom use, number of lifetime partners or STD/HIV-related beliefs (p > .05). Conclusions: Adolescents' perceptions of risk appear to be related to anxiety about STDs and HIV and their behaviors may be related to peer influences and attitudes toward using condoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-181
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1996


  • Anxiety
  • HIV
  • Perceptions of risk
  • STDs
  • Use of condoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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