Peers Influence Safe Sex Practices Among Latino Youth

Latinos are at high risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STIs). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Latino teens represented the second largest segment of the population with new diagnoses of AIDS and HIV in 2009. These teens are also more likely to become pregnant through unsafe sexual practices than their non-Latino peers. For Latino teens that use drugs and alcohol, the risks are even higher. The reasons behind these statistics include beginning sexual activity at a young age, having more than one sexual partner, and unsafe sexual practices without contraceptive use. Researchers have looked at what factors influence these decisions in youth and have discovered that peers have a significant impact on the behaviors of other teens. For example, research has shown that gay intravenous drug users were more likely to use condoms if their gay friends did. Based on this and other evidence, Farzana Kapadia of the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies & Public Health at New York University recently conducted a study to see how peer opinions influenced the safe sex practices of Latino youth with substance use issues.

Kapadia examined data from 92 Latino teens and assessed how often they used condoms and how many sexual partners they had over the period of 1 year. He found that the teens with the highest levels of safe sex peer support were the most likely to use condoms. Additionally, these teens had fewer sexual partners than those whose peers did not support safe sexual behaviors. The study also revealed that the Latino teens who had been in the United States the longest were the least likely to engage in safe sexual practices. This suggests that their cultural beliefs of monogamy and safer sex diminish the longer they are assimilated into the American culture. Kapadia believes that Latino media messages should focus on the positive effects of peer perceptions. Kapadia added, “These findings suggest that culturally sensitive and peer network–based HIV/STI prevention efforts  hold promise as a means of positively influencing the sexual behaviors of substance-using Latino youth.”

Kapadia, F., Frye, V., Bonner, S., Emmanuel, P. J., Samples, C. L., Latka, M. H. (2012). Perceived peer safer sex norms and sexual risk behaviors among substance-using Latino adolescents. AIDS Education & Prevention, 24.1, 27-40.

© Copyright 2012 All rights reserved.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • giovanna


    April 19th, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    Peers so heavily influence the lives of adolescents, I would assume that this same thing holds true no matter the culture or demographic that we are looking at. If you have a strong system of friends who behave one way then chances are you are going to follow the crowd. That is the way of the teenager.

  • Bettina


    April 19th, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    Why does this kind of destructive behavior seem to be so prevalent in many minority communities?

  • BettinaUdummy


    April 19th, 2012 at 7:48 PM

    Bettina can’t read! LOL “The study also revealed that the Latino teens who had been in the United States the longest were the least likely to engage in safe sexual practices. This suggests that their cultural beliefs of monogamy and safer sex diminish the longer they are assimilated into the American culture.” They get it from YOU, gringa!

  • Harv


    April 19th, 2012 at 11:50 PM

    Peers do influence.But what it also means is that the influence could be negative as well.One person sees his or her friend doesn’t practice safe sex and could follow suit!Awareness and individual thinking is what needs to be given attention to.Now if you add a message of “Tell your friends too” then that could help!

  • Bettina


    April 20th, 2012 at 4:17 AM

    Way to be supportive, and ignorant too. I did not realize this site was about name calling- I thought it was about learning and sharing with one another. I am sure that this happens across the board, and I really don’t appreciate the hostility directed towards me. If this is the way that readers are allowed to be treated on this website by the moderator, that I think I would prefer to take my questions elsewhere.

  • Cameron


    April 20th, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    The reality of this entire situation is that all of our young people are suffering due to a sheer lack of education in the field of sex. They experiment to learn because non of them are being given the right information to help them make better choices.
    Why did it become so taboo to talk about sex? Pretty much every adult out there has had sex, so I would much rather have my own kids have honest discussions with me and their teachers about sex instead of letting someone take advantage of them.
    I know that none of us want our own kids to be sexually active too young, but if we don’t attack this issue then they will be. So I at least want to know that they are protected if this is what they make the choice to do.

  • Wade T

    Wade T

    April 21st, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    If the family network is there, and the schools and communties and churches are getting in on the program, then there is going to be some improvement in this issue. Latino youth have struggled in the past with being a minority and trying to find their place in society.
    In many places that is no longer the case, and hopefully they won’t have to assert and find themselves in this way anymore. I hope that they have recognized that they are worth so much more than throwing away their lives by engaging in unsafe sexual practices.

  • jackson


    April 22nd, 2012 at 6:34 AM

    I remember when I was younger what my friends thought was everything! So friends continue to hevaily influence the lives of their peers and friends.

  • Brian


    April 23rd, 2012 at 3:43 PM

    pretty small sample group to be making such sweeping conclusions

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of's Terms and Conditions of Use.



* Indicates required field.

Therapist   Treatment Center

Advanced Search

Search Our Blog

Title   Content   Author is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptom or medical condition. Never disregard professional psychological or medical advice nor delay in seeking professional advice or treatment because of something you have read on