To examine the prevalence of sexual violence among young African American females and to explore the mediating role that partner communication plays on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/sexually transmitted disease–associated risk behaviors among youth with a history of sexual violence relative to those without.
Only data from baseline, before randomization, were used for this analysis.
A clinic-based sample of young females enrolled in a randomized trial of an HIV-prevention program in Atlanta, Georgia, from March 2002 to August 2004.
African American females aged 15 to 21 years who reported sexual activity in the previous 60 days. Of 1558 screened, 874 females were eligible and 82% (n = 715) participated at baseline.
History of sexual violence as well as (1) sexual partner communication skills, (2) current sexual behaviors, and (3) psychological well-being.
Lifetime prevalence of sexual violence was 26%. Communication skills partially mediated the relationship between sexual violence and psychological well-being and sexual behavior outcomes.
Given the lifetime prevalence of sexual violence and its adverse sexual, psychological, and relational sequelae, it is paramount that effective interventions are developed. Based on our findings, improving partner communications skills is one particularly important area for HIV/sexually transmitted disease risk–reduction interventions for youths with a history of sexual violence.