AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 339–350 | Cite as

Pathways of Risk: Race, Social Class, Stress, and Coping as Factors Predicting Heterosexual Risk Behaviors for HIV Among Women

  • Jeannette R. Ickovics
  • Susan E. Beren
  • Elena L. Grigorenko
  • Allison C. Morrill
  • Jennifer A. Druley
  • Judith Rodin


African-American women and Latinas as well as women of lower socioeconomic status are disproportionately represented among women with AIDS; therefore, understanding the factors associated with HIV risk behavior for these women is of particular concern. With a diverse sample of women, the current study examined the validity of a theoretical model that proposed that stress and coping mediated the relationships of race/ethnicity and social class to sexual risk behaviors. Structural equation modeling indicated that although social class demonstrated direct and indirect associations with HIV risk behavior, race did not. Women with lower income had higher levels of stress and riskier sexual partners. However, women with higher income were more likely to engage in unprotected intercourse, often within a committed relationship. Coping style did not mediate the relationship of race, social class, and/or stress with risky sexual behaviors. These findings indicate that social class may be a more important factor than race in predicting individual HIV risk behaviors and that assumptions about race and social class must be empirically tested to understand these complex associations. Pathways to risk and prevention are discussed.

HIV/AIDS behavior risk social class race stress coping 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeannette R. Ickovics
    • 1
  • Susan E. Beren
    • 2
  • Elena L. Grigorenko
    • 2
  • Allison C. Morrill
    • 2
  • Jennifer A. Druley
    • 2
  • Judith Rodin
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology and Public HealthYale University, and Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS, New Haven, Connecticut. Department of Psychology, Yale UniversityNew Haven
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyYale UniversityNew Haven

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