Impact of Marriage On HIV/AIDS Risk Behavior Among Impoverished, At-risk Couples: a Multilevel Latent Variable Approach

Studies among normative samples generally demonstrate a positive impact of marriage on health behaviors and other related attitudes. In this study, we examine the impact of marriage on HIV/AIDS risk behaviors and attitudes among impoverished, highly stressed, homeless couples, many with severe substance abuse problems. A multilevel analysis of 368 high-risk sexually intimate married and unmarried heterosexual couples assessed individual and couple-level effects on social support, substance use problems, HIV/AIDS knowledge, perceived HIV/AIDS risk, needle-sharing, condom use, multiple sex partners, and HIV/AIDS testing. More variance was explained in the protective and risk variables by couple-level latent variable predictors than by individual latent variable predictors, although some gender effects were found (e.g., more alcohol problems among men). The couple-level variable of marriage predicted lower perceived risk, less deviant social support, and fewer sex partners but predicted more needle-sharing. (Authors)

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AIDS and Behavior