The Role of Sexual Health Professionals in Developing a Shared Concept of Risky Sexual Behavior as it Relates to HIV Transmission

Bridgette M. Brawner, Kamila A. Alexander, Ehriel F. Fannin, Jillian L. Baker, Zupenda M. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

"Risky sexual behavior" accounts for the majority of new HIV infections regardless of gender, age, geographic location, or ethnicity. The phrase, however, refers to a relatively nebulous concept that hampers development of effective sexual health communication strategies. The purpose of this paper was to propose development of a shared conceptual understanding of "risky sexual behavior." We reviewed multidisciplinary HIV/AIDS literature to identify definitions of risky sexual behavior. Both the linguistic components and the social mechanisms that contribute to the concept of risky sexual behaviors were noted. Risky sexual behavior was often defined in a subjective manner in the literature, even in the scientific research. We urge a paradigm shift to focus on explicit behaviors and the social context of those behaviors in determining HIV risk. We also propose a new definition that reduces individual biases and promotes a broader discussion of the degree of sexual risk across a diversity of behavioral contexts. Sexual health professionals can strengthen practice and research initiatives by operating from a concise working definition of risky sexual behavior that is broadly transferable and expands beyond a traditional focus on identity-based groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-150
Number of pages12
JournalPublic Health Nursing
Volume33
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

Keywords

  • Disease prevention
  • Diversity
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Health promotion
  • Patient education
  • Prevention
  • Programme planning
  • Public health systems
  • Sexual behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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