Sex Roles

, Volume 78, Issue 7–8, pp 467–481 | Cite as

Individual, Interpersonal, and Sociostructural Factors Influencing Partner Nonmonogamy Acceptance among Young African American Women

  • Ashley C. Lima
  • Teaniese Latham Davis
  • Karen Hilyard
  • Kathleen deMarrais
  • William L. JeffriesIV
  • Jessica Legge Muilenburg
Original Article


In 2015 in the United States, the HIV diagnosis rate among African American women was 16 times that of White women, and HIV especially affected young African American women. African American women’s partnerships with nonmonogamous men may be one factor contributing to this disparity. Previous research has not adequately described factors influencing acceptance of partner nonmonogamy among African American women. To better understand this phenomenon, we interviewed 11 African American women aged 18–24 years-old who reported having sex in the past 3 months and reported knowing or suspecting a partner to have another female partner in the past 12 months. We employed a semi-structured interview guide designed to elicit in-depth, narrative responses from women about their partnerships. We used narrative analysis to interpret findings. Participants described factors that encouraged acceptance of partner nonmonogamy. These factors were social (i.e., limited partner availability, gender norms, and cultural norms), interpersonal (i.e., partner-specific comfort, sexual connection and emotional attachment, and casual partnership type), and intrapersonal (i.e., low self-esteem, loneliness, and fatalistic attitudes about nonmonogamy) in nature. The sociocultural context in which young African American women develop sexual partnerships may influence their attitudes, expectations, and behaviors within these partnerships and place them at increased risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.


HIV/AIDS Sexually transmitted infections Concurrent sex partnerships Partner nonmonogamy African American women 



We are grateful to Laetitia Adelson and Amber Broughton for their assistance with transcription and data analysis. We offer additional thanks to Ms. Adelson for her support during the research process. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest Statement

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Ethical Statement

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

11199_2017_811_MOESM1_ESM.docx (32 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 31 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ashley C. Lima
    • 1
  • Teaniese Latham Davis
    • 2
  • Karen Hilyard
    • 3
  • Kathleen deMarrais
    • 4
  • William L. JeffriesIV
    • 1
  • Jessica Legge Muilenburg
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of HIV/AIDS PreventionNational Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and PreventionAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Morehouse CollegePublic Health Sciences InstituteAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Health Promotion and BehaviorUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  4. 4.Department of Lifelong Education, Administration, and PolicyUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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