Racial-ethnic minority youth between the ages of 13 and 24 in the USA are disproportionately impacted by HIV. Low HIV knowledge and psychological antecedents such as low perception of risk and low sexual negotiation skills have all been associated with HIV risk behaviors; however, the role of ethnic identity on these factors is unclear in the literature. Ethnic identity, which is a critical part of identity development among racial-ethnic minority youth, has been found to be a protective factor in risk-taking behaviors. However, limited research is available on the role of ethnic identity in HIV prevention research among youth. For this study, data were collected as part of a larger HIV prevention education program using a sample of 564 students of color (Meanage = 16.30, standard deviation [SD] = 1.26; 67.4% Hispanic, 29.5% Black) from an underserved northeastern US urban community. We examined whether ethnic identity moderated the relationship between psychological antecedents (e.g., perception of risk and sexual negotiation skills), gender, and viral hepatitis knowledge on HIV knowledge. Findings revealed that ethnic identity significantly moderated the relationship between psychological antecedent variables and HIV knowledge by strengthening these associations as ethnic identity increased. Female adolescents were also more likely to have higher levels of HIV knowledge than males. Findings provide support for cultural and gender-specific prevention programs for racial-ethnic minority youth that seek to reduce HIV risk behaviors by increasing ethnic identity, particularly in under-resourced communities.
- Ethnic identity
- Urban youth