, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 414-427
Date: 18 Dec 2009

Acculturation and Sexual Risk Behaviors Among Latina Adolescents Transitioning to Young Adulthood

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Abstract

Latinas in the United States are at a disproportionate risk for STDs and sexual risk behaviors. Among Latinas, acculturation has been found to be one of the most important predictors of these behaviors. Therefore, this study examined the longitudinal association between Latina adolescents’ level of acculturation and multiple sexual risk outcomes, including self-report STD diagnosis, four or more life-time sex partners, regret of sexual initiation after alcohol use, and lack of condom use during young adulthood. Based on the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), this study includes a nationally representative sample of 1,073 Latina adolescents (ages 11–20 at Wave 1) transitioning into young adulthood (ages 18–27 at Wave 3). Our findings indicate that more acculturated Latinas who spoke English at home were more likely to have STDs and to exhibit sexual risk behaviors than Latinas who were foreign-born and did not use English at home. Interventions that aim to promote sexual and reproductive health among young Latinas should take into consideration their different levels of acculturation. This approach holds greater potential for reducing health disparities among Latinas.