Women's protective sexual behaviors: a test of the health belief model.AIDS Educ Prev. 1994 Feb; 6(1):1-11.AE
Heterosexual transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has become a significant health issue for women. The present study describes the extent to which a sample of women from an urban area report making efforts to protect themselves from becoming infected with HIV through several protective sexual behaviors. Secondly, we assess the extent to which adoption of these protective behaviors can be explained by health beliefs and previous HIV testing. Forty-nine percent of the sample reported having used a condom in the past year because of fear of AIDS and 48% reported having carried condoms. Women in this sample perceived themselves to be moderately susceptible to AIDS and they were well aware of the severity of the disease. Women tended to think that protecting themselves from AIDS would not be overly burdensome and that the recommended sexual protective behaviors were highly effective for preventing AIDS. Messages about the severity of AIDS and the effectiveness of protective sexual behaviors seem to be reaching women. Beliefs about personal susceptibility were consistently associated with the adoption of multiple protective behaviors, suggesting that messages emphasizing the ubiquity of risk, especially in demographically high-risk populations, may be particularly appropriate and effective.