Using data from a national qualitative study of lesbian, bisexual, and other sexual minority adolescent girls in the U.S., this study examined their awareness of the risk of sexually transmitted infection (STI) and opportunities for barrier use.
Online asynchronous focus groups were conducted with lesbian and bisexual (LB) girls ages 14–18 years. Girls were assigned to online groups based on their self-identified sexual identity and whether they were sexually experienced or not. Two moderators posed questions and facilitated online discussions. Interpretive description analysis conducted by multiple members of the research team was used to categorize the results.
Key factors in girls’ decisions not to use barriers with female partners concerned pleasure, sex of sexual partner, lack of knowledge of sexual risk or of barrier use for female-to-female sexual activities, and use of STI testing as a prevention tool.
Addressing knowledge and access gaps is an important first step for improving sexual health. Prevention priorities should focus on helping LB girls understand their risk of STI transmission in both opposite and same-sex relationships. Tailoring messaging to move beyond heteronormative scripts is critical to engaging LB girls and equipping them with the skills and knowledge to have safer sex regardless of the sex of their partner.