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Sex and Sexuality Among New York's Puerto Rican Youth

Marysol Asencio
Sex and Sexuality Among New York's Puerto Rican Youth
ISBN: 978-1-58826-073-4
2002/200 pages/LC: 2002069818

"An important contribution to the study of teenage sexuality with substantial and very significant social policy implications.... One of the most interesting and poignant aspects of this excellent study is its critique of abstinence campaigns—Elizabeth Crespo, American Journal of Sociology

"This is an important and welcomed contribution.... [It] belongs everywhere people wanting to better understand HIV infection, STDs, unplanned pregnancies and other risk behaviors among adolescents can find it."—Julio Morales, Journal of HIV/AIDS Prevention & Education

"This is an excellent book and one that needs to [be] looked at by others doing sexuality studies of targeted groups."—AIDS Book Review Journal

"Provocative and deeply original.... Asencio has written a meticulous, nuanced, and deeply grounded account of sexuality and gender among Puerto Rican young people in New York City. Among its many riches, her book offers a riveting, engaging, and serious challenge to received knowledge about Latinos.... and a devastating critique of the harm done by abstinence education. This is a brave and challenging book."—Carole Vance, Columbia University

"An excellent and important work."—Oliva M. Espin, San Diego State University


Though Latinos are the youngest and most rapidly growing minority ethnic group in the U.S. today, their experiences with regard to sexuality have received little attention. Remedying this, Sex and Sexuality Among New York's Puerto Rican Youth draws on the voices of second-generation Puerto Rican adolescents in New York to illustrate the complex interactions of class, culture, and acculturation that produce sexual behaviors and attitudes.

Asencio reveals that programs encouraging abstinence, monogamy, and safer-sex practices have interacted with Latino adolescent social and cultural norms to produce changes—but not changes that reduce sexual risk. Her study presents both data and conclusions that have critical significance for the development of policy aimed at mitigating the devastation of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.


Marysol Asencio is assistant professor of Puerto Rican and Latino studies and family studies at the University of Connecticut and associate director of the university's Puerto Rican and Latino Studies Institute.


  • Introduction: Understanding Puerto Rican Youth and Sexuality.
  • Gendering Virginity and Abstinence.
  • Defining and Practicing Monogamy.
  • Safer-Sex, Coitus, and Condoms.
  • Conclusions: Perspectives on Research, Programs, and Policy.
  • Appendix: Methods, Community, and Participants.