Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 48, Issue 2, pp 507–519 | Cite as

Racial Discrimination, Protective Processes, and Sexual Risk Behaviors Among Black Young Males

  • Megan R. HicksEmail author
  • Steven M. Kogan
Original Paper


Racial discrimination is a documented risk factor for sexual risk behaviors among young Black men. Mechanisms of effect and protective processes remain to be investigated. This study examined the mediating effect of emotional distress, self-regulation, and substance use on the association between racial discrimination and sexual risk behaviors. Sexual risk behaviors included in this study were inconsistent condom use and sexual concurrency (sexual partnerships that overlap overtime). The protective effect of protective social ties was also investigated. A sample of 505 heterosexually active men aged 19–22 years were recruited and surveyed for 3 time points. Men answered questions on racial discrimination, sexual risk behaviors, emotional distress, self-regulation, and substance use. Mediation and moderation models were tested. Racial discrimination (T1) significantly and positively predicted emotional distress (T2). Emotional distress, substance use, and self-regulation partially mediated the association between racial discrimination and sexual risk behaviors. Protective social ties attenuated the effects of emotional distress on substance use and self-regulation. Racial discrimination is an important context for sexual risk behaviors. Minority stress may translate to sexual risk behavior through psychosocial mediators, such as emotional distress, self-regulation, and substance use. Protective social ties may buffer against emotional distress to reduce substance use and increase self-regulation. The findings of this study can provide new insights through the investigation of risk and protective processes that influence sexual risk behaviors among young Black men.


Black young men Emerging adults Sexual risk Racial discrimination 



We would like to thank Eileen Neubaum-Carlan, M.S., for her helpful comments in the preparation of this article.


This research was supported by Award Number R01 DA029488 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, or the National Institutes of Health.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social WorkWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA
  2. 2.Human Development and Family ScienceUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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