Condoms and Connection: Parents, Gay and Bisexual Youth, and HIV Risk


  • Michael C. LaSala

    Corresponding author
    1. Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
    • Address correspondence to Michael C. LaSala, PhD, LCSW, School of Social Work, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, 536 George Street New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901; E-mail:

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  • The research described in this article was funded by the New York Community Trust, Lois and Samuel Silberman Fund Faculty Grant Program. The author wishes to acknowledge James Fedor, LCSW, and Christopher Famiglietti, BA for their assistance with data collection and analysis, and Elyse J. Revere, MA, LSW for her transcribing and editorial assistance.


The family has long been considered a powerful influence on youth's high-risk behaviors. However, little is known about preventive family influences for gay and bisexual youth, a group at high risk for HIV infection. For this study, qualitative interviews from a sample of 38 gay and bisexual youth and their parents/guardians underwent a thematic analysis. Youth described parent–child closeness, parental warnings, and urgings to use condoms as influences. Youth denying family influence came from families in which parent–child relationships were disrupted or HIV-related discussion was lacking. Most families reported discomfort discussing HIV risk. These findings, along with a case example, suggest how family therapists can enhance parental influence by helping these families strengthen their relationships and discuss this important topic.

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