142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

HIV knowledge, Testing, Stigma, Religiosity, Substance Use and Sexual Risk Behaviors in a Sample of Rural American College and University Students

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Monday, November 17, 2014 : 3:30 PM - 3:45 PM

Guitele Rahill, PhD , Department of Social Work, College of Behavioral and Community Sciences, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Monica Landers, MPH, MSW , Department of Mental Health Law and Policy- Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Background: HIV/AIDS knowledge and test-and-treat remain crucial prevention strategies for sexually active populations in the United States (US). Although rural college/university students, like their urban counterparts are in a developmental stage characterized by increased sexual activity and reassessment of personal religious values, regional religious norms often stigmatize individuals who engage in behaviors that can result in HIV diagnoses, and HIV stigma discourages HIV testing.   Few studies shed light on religiosity, HIV knowledge/stigma/sexual risk behaviors in that population.

Method: Using a quasi-experimental design and a self-administered survey, we assessed HIV Knowledge,  HIV Stigma,  Religiosity, and Sexual Risk Behavior in a sample of students enrolled at a US rural university (N=678). SPSS enabled bivariate analyses of data.

Results: Although 32% (n=209) reported knowing someone with HIV/AIDS, only 44.2% (n= 294) had ever been tested, only 30% always used a condom, and almost 60% (n= 344) reported alcohol/drug use before sex; yet 82 % (n= 532) rated personal risk of HIV as very low. Respondents who endorsed having attended an HIV/AIDS education program scored significantly higher on HIV knowledge [t (556) = -2.93; p < .01], and significantly lower on the stigma scale than those who didn’t [t (668) = 3.11; p < .01]. Religiosity was significantly and positively correlated with HIV stigma[r (665) = .14, p < .01].    

Conclusions: Rural college/university students constitute crucial target populations for HIV prevention. Interventions should emphasize HIV knowledge, test-and-treat, safer sex, and relationships among HIV stigma, substance use and HIV risk, and self-care regardless of religiosity.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Chronic disease management and prevention
Diversity and culture

Learning Objectives:
Describe HIV knowledge, stigma, religiosity and HIV risk behaviors in a sample of college/ university students in the rural United States Discuss specific factors that should be emphasized in developing HIV prevention interventions for college/ university students in the rural United States

Keyword(s): College Students, HIV/AIDS

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Among my research interests have been conducting HIV research among underserved populations since 2005. I am currently a Principal Investigator on an NICHD-funded grant focusing on capacity building and mentoring of junior faculty at an international university, to conduct HIV prevention research targeting youth. My contributions highlighting the importance of geographical diversity in impacting health, particularly HIV, have been published in high-impact journals since 2009.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.