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August 14, 2003


Emory Scientist Presents Findings on Depression, Drug and Alcohol Use, and Risky Sex

ATLANTA —Claire Sterk, PhD, Charles Howard Candler professor and chair of behavioral science and health education, Rollins School of Public Health, and her team of researchers will present a series of findings on the connections between depression, alcohol and drug use, and the propensity to engage in risky sex at the 98th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, August 16-19 at the Hilton Atlanta and Atlanta Marriott Marquis hotels.

Scheduled presentations by Dr. Sterk and her colleagues include:

Saturday, August 16, 2:30 pm
"Depression and HIV Risk Behavior Practices Among ‘At Risk’ Women"

Researchers examined the relationship between depression and HIV-related risk behavior in a sample of 250 women (predominantly African-American) living in the Atlanta metropolitan area. They studied the link between depression and condom-related attitudes and risky practices by assessing variables such as demographics, background and experiences, childhood maltreatment and substance use. The results support the hypothesis that depression has a primary influence on women’s risky practices through its impact upon their attitudes toward using condoms.

Sunday, August 17, 10:30 am
"Predictors of the Frequency with Which ‘At Risk’ Women Have Sex and Drink? Alcohol"

This study focuses on alcohol, women and sexual relations. Researchers have examined the predictors of the frequency with which ‘at risk’ women engage in sexual relations while under the influence of alcoholic beverages. They hypothesized that factors such as demographic characteristics, background and experiences, childhood maltreatment experience, substance use-related measures, psychosocial and attitudinal items affected the risk behavior in question. However, the data showed that education, childhood neglect experiences, knowledge of HIV/AIDS, the desire to change one’s risky sexual behaviors, and the amount of help that friends can be relied to provide, are all significant predictors of the connection between alcohol and sex.

Sunday, August 17, 2:30 pm
Sex, Drugs and Ecstasy: A Qualitative Comparison of Two Types of Ecstasy Users

Researchers explored the emerging trends among current 18-25 year old users from different environments to examine the evolving patterns of ecstasy use. The data revealed that the phenomenon is increasing among African-Americans. The paper being presented describes the changing social settings and use patterns of ecstasy users, with a focus on how the setting affects drug use and other risk behaviors. Understanding the changes will assist researchers in improving the prevention of health-risk behaviors that lead to HIV and STDs and also aid in developing drug education and treatment programs.

Monday, August 18, 2:30 pm
"Maturing In (Or Into) Drug Use: A Life Course Analysis of Aging Drug Users

National statistical data shows that the over age 35 group is the fastest growing population of drug users. Some are drug users who used as young adults or adolescents and are continuing drug use. Others are new users who started after age 30. The study looks at survey and in-depth interviews on baby boomers who are currently using heroin and methamphetamine. The finding support earlier research on the influence of depression on drug use.

The work and research of behavioral scientist Dr. Claire Sterk has solidified her standing as a leading national and international figure in the field of public health anthropology. She is a recognized expert in the area of addiction and women’s health. Dr. Sterk has been studying risk behaviors for disease and intervention in high-risk communities for more than twenty years.

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