May 3, 2010
The current longitudinal study examines precursors of sexual risk behavior among a cohort of adolescent children of HIV-positive and HIV-negative drug-abusing or drug-dependent fathers.
The study involved 296 fathers who were drug-abusing or drug-dependent; the men underwent individual structured interviews. Forty-three percent of the men were HIV-positive. An adolescent child of each father also was interviewed and re-interviewed approximately one year later. The mean age of participating children was 16.3 years (SD=2.8)
"Structural equation modeling showed multiple direct and indirect pathways from psychosocial factors to adolescent sexual risk behavior (sexually active, number of sexual partners and frequency of condom use)," the authors noted. The results showed that greater paternal drug addiction and being HIV-positive, and the teen's perception of environmental hostility (discrimination and victimization) both were related to increased maladjustment and substance use by the adolescent.
In addition, greater paternal addiction and being HIV-positive were associated with weaker father-child attachment; this, in turn, was linked to increased maladjustment and substance use by the adolescent. An enhanced perception of environmental hostility (discrimination and victimization), a weak father-child relationship, and greater maladjustment and substance use by the teens were identified as direct pathways to adolescent sexual risk behavior.
"Findings suggest complex interrelationships among paternal, environmental, social, personal and substance use factors as longitudinal predictors of sexual risk behavior in children whose fathers abuse or are dependent upon drugs," the authors concluded. "The importance of perceived environmental hostility, the father-child relationship and adolescent maladjustment and substance use may have implications for public policy as well as prevention and treatment programs."