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Religiosity and Sexual Risk Behaviors Among African American Cocaine Users in the Rural South

Authors

  • Brooke E.E. Montgomery PhD, MPH,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas
    • For further information, contact: Brooke E.E. Montgomery, PhD, MPH, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, 4301 W. Markham Street, Slot 820, Little Rock, AR 72205; e-mail: bemontgomery@uams.edu.

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  • Katharine E. Stewart PhD, MPH,

    1. General Administration, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
    2. Department of Public Health Sciences, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, North Carolina
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  • Karen H.K. Yeary PhD,

    1. Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas
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  • Carol E. Cornell PhD,

    1. Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas
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  • LeaVonne Pulley PhD,

    1. Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas
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  • Robert Corwyn PhD,

    1. Psychology Department, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Little Rock, Arkansas
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  • Songthip T. Ounpraseuth PhD

    1. Department of Biostatistics, Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas
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  • Funding: This study was funded through the Kirschstein National Research Service Award National Institute on Drug Abuse Predoctoral Fellowship (F31 DA026286), and by the Translational Research Institute (TRI) grants UL1TR000039 and KL2TR000063 through the NIH National Center for Research Resources and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. Additional funding was received through a research grant (R01DA024575) to Dr. Katharine Stewart from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It was also supported in part by the Arkansas Center for Minority Health Disparities (award P20MD002329 from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities), by the Arkansas Prevention Research Center (award 1U48DP001943 from the CDC), and by the UAMS Translational Research Institute (award 1UL1RR029884 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Science). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding institutes and centers, the National Institutes of Health, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Acknowledgments: The authors of this manuscript would like to thank the JES’ US research team and staff for their contributions to this project. Most importantly, we are grateful to the JES’ US Community Advisory Board and participants, without whom none of this would have been possible.

Abstract

Purpose

Racial and geographic disparities in human immunodeficency virus (HIV) are dramatic and drug use is a significant contributor to HIV risk. Within the rural South, African Americans who use drugs are at extremely high risk. Due to the importance of religion within African American and rural Southern communities, it can be a key element of culturally-targeted health promotion with these populations. Studies have examined religion's relationship with sexual risk in adolescent populations, but few have examined specific religious behaviors and sexual risk behaviors among drug-using African American adults. This study examined the relationship between well-defined dimensions of religion and specific sexual behaviors among African Americans who use cocaine living in the rural southern United States.

Methods

Baseline data from a sexual risk reduction intervention for African Americans who use cocaine living in rural Arkansas (N = 205) were used to conduct bivariate and multivariate analyses examining the association between multiple sexual risk behaviors and key dimensions of religion including religious preference, private and public religious participation, religious coping, and God-based, congregation-based, and church leader-based religious support.

Findings

After adjusting individualized network estimator weights based on the recruitment strategy, different dimensions of religion had inverse relationships with sexual risk behavior, including church leadership support with number of unprotected vaginal/anal sexual encounter and positive religious coping with number of sexual partners and with total number of vaginal/anal sexual encounters.

Conclusion

Results suggest that specific dimensions of religion may have protective effects on certain types of sexual behavior, which may have important research implications.

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