Graduation Date

Spring 5-7-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research

First Advisor

Melissa Tibbits, PhD


Despite the growing population of Hispanics and several efforts to combat the high STI/HIV rates among Hispanic youths aged 13 to 24 years in the United States, this population continues to experience stark disparities in STI/HIV and is underrepresented in STI/HIV research relative to their White peers. This dissertation consists of three distinct studies designed to identify and understand the contextual factors of STI/HIV sexual risk behaviors across the social-ecological model that are pertinent to Hispanic youths.

Results from the first study showed that STI/HIV sexual risk behavior varied by Hispanic youths’ acculturation types and moderated by gender. We found higher odds of having multiple sex partners and unprotected sex among American acculturated Hispanic youths (particularly males) than Hispanic acculturated youths. But we found no report on bi-culturation and sexual behavior. Although the second study showed a low receipt of parent-child dialogue about safer sex topics among our sample of Hispanic youths, we found those who received this discussion were more likely to use a condom during sexual activities. In the third paper, we discovered that Mexican-origin mothers in the United States engage in safer sex topics with their youths despite their cultural beliefs, but this was more apparent among American acculturated and Bi-cultural Mexican mothers.

Overall, the finding from this work is an initial step to addressing the methodological limitations associated with measuring acculturation and the underrepresentation of Hispanic youths in STI/HIV research. One of the strengths of this paper is that we used a bidimensional acculturation approach to capture the experiences of bi-cultural Mexican mothers relative to parent-child sexual dialogues.

To alleviate the contextual risk factors and stark disparities in STI/HIV rates among Hispanic youths in the United States, more culturally specific STI/HIV preventive efforts are needed to address the specific acculturation, familial, cultural, and sexual health challenges faced by Hispanic youths, including empowering Hispanic parents (particularly Mexican mothers) to engage in safer sex dialogues with their youths.

Available for download on Thursday, April 25, 2024