African American women represent the fastest growing group of individuals infected with HIV in the United States. Social and contextual influences on HIV risk vulnerability in this group are discussed, with particular emphasis on risk behaviors related to heterosexual contact and injection drug use. Social factors associated with the sex-ratio imbalance and low rates of condom use in the African American community are addressed, as are contextual influences related to environmental stress and psychosocial issues. We describe interventions that directly address both social and contextual influences on African American women's risk behaviors. Finally, mental health and psychological concerns are presented as a framework for better understanding women's reactions to HIV/AIDS and for developing comprehensive programs and services that better meet their needs. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2004 APA, all rights reserved) (journal abstract).
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