Understanding sex partner selection from the perspective of inner-city black adolescents

Katherine Andrinopoulos, Deanna Kerrigan, Jonathan M. Ellen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


CONTEXT: Black adolescents in inner-city settings are at increased risk for HIV and other STDs. Sex partner characteristics, as well as individual behavior, influence individuals' STD risk, yet little is known about the process of sex partner selection for adolescents in this setting. METHODS: Semistructured in-depth interviews were conducted during the summer and fall of 2002 with 50 inner-city black adolescents (26 females and 24 males) who had been purposively recruited from an STD clinic. Content analysis was used to study interview texts. RESULTS: Young women desire a monogamous romantic partner, rather than a casual sex partner; however, to fulfill their desire for emotional intimacy, they often accept a relationship with a nonmonogamous partner. Young men seek both physical and emotional benefits from being in a relationship; having a partner helps them to feel wanted, and they gain social status among their peers when they have multiple partners. For men, these benefits may help compensate for an inability to obtain jobs that would improve their financial and, as a result, social status. Both women and men assess partners' STD risk on the basis of appearance. CONCLUSIONS: HIV and other STD prevention initiatives must go beyond the scope of traditional messages aimed at behavior change and address the need for social support and socioeconomic opportunities among at-risk, inner-city adolescents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)132-138
Number of pages7
JournalPerspectives on sexual and reproductive health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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