Background: This study analyzed the HIV risk reduction behaviors of a diverse online sample of young adults.
Methods: The Condom Use and Sexual Behavioral Empowerment Scale (Cronbach’s Alpha .847) proved reliable in capturing empowerment profiles. This scale is grounded in four theories (self-efficacy, stages of change, social support, role models) and assesses four HIV risk reduction behaviors. The research diffused the innovation of an online survey associated with a website providing e-health, including an invitation to co-create website content with the researcher.
Results: The study sample (N = 201) of heterosexually active young adults (18-25 years) were mostly students (63.2%), white (40.8%), Asian (20.9%), Latino (18.4%), and Black (10.4%)—while using the Internet to access health information (53.2%). Most had steady sexual partners (71.6%), yet reported main partner sexual concurrency (30.3%); other partner sexual concurrency (28.4%); and personal sexual concurrency (24.4%). Backward stepwise regression analysis found not having a main sex partner (B = -.504, SE = .162, p < .01), having more access to devices for the Internet (B = .150, SE = .162, p < .05), a higher score for Empowerment Self-Efficacy (B = .425, SE = .071, p < .001), a higher score for Empowerment Social Support (B = .360, SE = .130, p < .01), and a higher score for Empowerment Role Models (B = .221, SE = .084, p < .01) predicted being in a higher stage of change for engaging in the four HIV risk reduction behaviors. Qualitative data highlighted the selection of steady partners and condom use as ways of coping in the era of HIV, as noteworthy emergent themes.
Conclusions: Findings demonstrated that the ways of coping in the era of HIV and sexual behavior of diverse young adults are influenced by various contextual factors.