"African American adolescents are more likely to delay early initiation of sexual activities if monitored by their mothers," said Barbara Dancy, professor of public health, mental health and administrative nursing in the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Nursing and primary researcher of the study. "Among all racial and ethnic groups of adolescent girls, African Americans from low-income backgrounds are the most vulnerable for HIV risk because of early sexual activity."

The study discovered that adolescents who rely on their parents for direction and guidance, as opposed to their friends or others, were significantly less likely to engage in high-risk HIV behaviour.

Mothers learned about HIV over a 12-week period through the Mother/Daughter HIV Risk Reduction intervention, taught by UIC research teams. Topics consisted of sexual development; how the female and male reproductive systems function; sexually transmitted illnesses; HIV transmission, stages, risks and testing; and learning and practicing skills to reduce the risk of HIV.

To enhance mothers' coaching and guidance, the curriculum provided joint mother/daughter homework assignments and encouraged mothers to request daughters to sign agreements to practice sexual abstinence. Following the 12 weeks of intensive training, mothers brought their daughters to the group and shared with them what they learned about HIV.

"We wanted to teach the mothers separately, so the daughters could see them as educators," Dancy said. "The mothers were very enthusiastic about the program. They felt more confident talking to their daughters about the dangers of HIV because they had all of the information."

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Illinois at Chicago