Culture, health & sexuality 2017 08 10() 1-16 doi 10.1080/13691058.2017.1356937
In the USA, partner non-monogamy is reported to be more common among African American women than White women and may contribute to African American women’s increased risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Few studies have explicitly and comprehensively described the protective behaviours that African American women employ with non-monogamous partners to reduce their HIV risk. We conducted interviews to examine protective behaviours among 11 African American women aged 18-24 years who perceived that a partner in the preceding 12 months had another sex partner. Participants described three types of partnerships with 29 non-monogamous men; these partnerships clustered into three categories. Narrative analysis revealed an overall paucity of protective behaviours with non-monogamous partners. Protective behaviours (i.e. communication and condom use) were informed by partnership type, rather than perceptions of non-monogamy. There were few instances in which partner non-monogamy motivated women to terminate sex partnerships. Rather, these decisions were often motivated by changes in other relationship dynamics. To address HIV/STI risk related to partner non-monogamy, HIV prevention strategies for young African American women should emphasise the importance of condom use in all non-marital partnership types. Interventions where testing is available may be effective for women who frequently test for HIV/STIs but do not use condoms.