The Association Between African American Parent–Child Sex Communication and Adolescent Condomless Sex


African American adolescents are at elevated risk for HIV and sexually transmitted infections. Risk reduction efforts have focused on parent–child communications, despite inconsistent findings regarding their association with adolescent sexual risk behaviors. The present study included sexually active African American adolescents and their parents/guardians (N = 125 dyads). All participants reported on frequency of sexual health conversations and adolescents reported recent occasions of protected and condomless sex. Analyses examined the congruence between parent–child communication reports and the association between this congruence and adolescent condomless sex. Parents and adolescents disagreed on the frequency of sexual health communication: 30% of parents reported such conversations as frequent, whereas only 2% of adolescents did. Parent-reported sex communication was negatively associated with adolescent condomless sex, while adolescent-reported communication was not. The moderation hypothesis was supported in that adolescent-reported sex communication was negatively associated with adolescent condomless sex only among parent–child dyads high in agreement on sexual health communication. Promoting parent–child conversations regarding sexual health, with attention to relational characteristics of the conversations, offers a promising approach to sexual health promotion and disease prevention for African American youth.

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This research was funded by a Merck HPV Investigator Initiated Studies Program grant awarded to Peter A. Vanable. The authors wish to thank Noel Brewer for providing consultation and assistance with the development of our survey instrument.

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Correspondence to Katherine E. Bonafide.

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Bonafide, K.E., Vanable, P.A. & Carey, M.P. The Association Between African American Parent–Child Sex Communication and Adolescent Condomless Sex. AIDS Behav 24, 847–853 (2020).

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  • Parent–child communication
  • Sexual risk behavior
  • African American
  • Adolescents