School of Social Work study looks at Asian-American women’s sexual behaviors

Assistant Professor Hyeouk Chris Hahm

Hyeouk Chris Hahm

According to a new study by Hyeouk Chris Hahm, an Assistant Professor at the Boston University School of Social Work, a highly-controlling male partner did not influence condom use behaviors among Asian-American women.  However, the study did find that a highly-controlling partner increased by fivefold an Asian-American woman’s risk of engaging in other high HIV risk behaviors.

Published in AIDS and Behavior, the paper, “Gender Power Control, Sexual Experiences, Safer Sex Practices and Potential HIV Risk Behaviors among Young Asian-American Women,” analyzes the sex and HIV risk behaviors of Asian-American women, and investigates the role of the Theory of Gender and Power – which suggests that a woman’s self-protection is often swayed by economic factors, abusive partnerships, and socialization to be sexually passive or ignorant.  While the theory has proved useful in predicting safer sex practices and HIV risk behaviors among Latin-American and African women, Hahm is the first to test the theory with Asian-American women.

“For Asian-American women, the relationship between gender power and their sexual behaviors has shown complex pictures,” said Hahm.  “Unlike Latinas or women in Africa, gender power control within young Asian-American women’s intimate relationships had different associations depending on the type of sexual behavior.  My follow-up analysis indicated that women who perceived themselves as having lower power were more likely to be depressed, and more likely to be engaged in HIV risk behaviors.  Understanding the role of depression for these women will be another important area of research.”