Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology



First Advisor

Lisa Harlow


A 210-item questionnaire was constructed and validated assessing AIDS-related risk among late adolescents in a college population ( age 18, 19 and 20 years). Twenty seven individual subscales were used to assess self-reported risk behaviors : How One Comes to Know About AIDS (HOW AIDS) scale (composed of the following subscales: (1) School Education Influence { consisting of three separate subscales: (2) Passive Learning Influence; (3) Interactive Learning Influence; and (4) Sex Education Training}; (5) Communication About Sex; (6) Peer Influence; (7) Family Influence; (8) Proximity (knowing someone with HIV/AIDS); (9) Famous Persons Influence (influence of famous people who have HIV/AIDS); and (10) Media Influence); (11) Perceived AIDS Knowledge; (12) Anxiety About AIDS; (13) Fear of AIDS; (14) Negative Attitudes Toward Gay and Lesbian Individuals; (15) AIDS Knowledge ; (16) Stereotyping About Who Has HIV/AIDS; (17) Perceived AIDS Risk; (18) Sexual Assertiveness for Communication; (19) Sexual Assertiveness for Condom Use; (20) Self-Efficacy for Condom Use; (21) Peer Influence in Condom Use; (22) Alcohol Use; (23) Drug Use; Problems from Substance Abuse ( composed of three separate subscales indicating (24) Minor, (25) Moderate, and (26) Severe abuse); and (27) Behavioral HIV Risk. In a sample of 674 college students (84% of whom are sexually active), it was found that individuals who have more negative attitudes toward gay and lesbian people report a lower self-perception of risk for HIV/AIDS. A more negative attitude toward gays and lesbians was also found to be associated with higher behavioral HIV risk and lower self- efficacy for AIDS prevention. This finding, in addition to the finding that individuals who received more education about HIV/AIDS and sex in secondary school also report less negative attitudes toward gays and lesbians, less anxiety about HIV/AIDS, and more accurate HIV/ AIDS knowledge, indicates that HIV/ AIDS education provides an important societal role, as well as functions as a possible means of reducing risk for contracting HIV/AIDS. The findings are consistent with the misperception that AIDS is a "gay disease" and point to the fact that this negative association might be preventing heterosexual people from taking steps to reduce their risk for AIDS. Limitations of the study, as well as implications for school HIV/AIDS and sex education programs and areas for future research, are discussed.



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