Sex-for-Crack-Cocaine Exchange, Poor Black Women, and Pregnancy

Sex-for-Crack-Cocaine Exchange, Poor Black Women, and Pregnancy,10.1177/104973201129119334,Qualitative Health Research,Tanya Telfair Sharpe

Sex-for-Crack-Cocaine Exchange, Poor Black Women, and Pregnancy   (Citations: 4)
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A sample of 34 poor Black women who exchanged sex for crack was screened to discover if sex-for-crack exchanges resulted in pregnancies. Ethnographic interviews were conducted with women who became pregnant this way. Out of the 34 women, 18 reported sex-for-crack pregnancies, and more than half of that number became pregnant this way more than once. Twenty-nine pregnancies were reported. Only 2 women chose to have abortions. Interview transcripts were analyzed using qualitative data analytical procedures. The following three issues shaped the women's responses to sex-for-crack pregnancies: (a) severity of crack use, (b) religious beliefs, and (c) social organization patterns within poor Black communities. The findings have implications for drug treatment and child welfare policy. The baby I am carrying now, I don't know who the father is. There are a few (men) that I had sex with around the time I got pregnant, that day. But which one it is, I don't know who. —1998 interview with a poor Black female crack user Crack cocaine has dramatically changed the lives of many poor Black women in cities. The emergent sex-for-crack-cocaine barter system in which women partici- pate after other economic resources have been exhausted has contributed to a shift in the balance of power between men and women in this context. Marginalized women, desperate for the drug, will engage in unprotected vaginal sex with many different men simply because they have access to quantities of crack (Inciardi, Lock- wood, & Pottieger, 1993; Ratner, 1993). Failure to use condoms during these encoun- ters is largely dependent on the man's resistance or the woman's haste to complete the act to continue drug use. The increases in sexually transmitted diseases, includ- ing HIV infection, have been linked to this behavior (Booth, Watters, & Chitwood, 1993; Forney, Inciardi, & Lockwood, 1992; Fullilove, Lown, & Fullilove, 1992; Marx, Aral, Rolfs, Sterk, & Kahn, 1990; Sterk, 1988). The other consequence of high fre- quency of unprotected sex is pregnancy. This pilot study is a precursor to a larger project on sex-for-crack exchange, poor Black women, and reproduction. The pur- pose of this research is twofold. First, social epidemiological procedures were used
Journal: Qualitative Health Research - QUAL HEALTH RES , vol. 11, no. 5, pp. 612-630, 2001
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