Media and Communication Ph.D. Dissertations

HIV/AIDS Knowledge, Attitudes, Involvement, and Predictors of Condom Use Among African American College Students: Implications for Communication Strategies for HIV/AIDS Prevention

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Communication Studies

First Advisor

Srinivas Melkote (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

Bob Lee (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Lynda Dixon (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Ewart Skinner (Committee Member)


After the initial outbreak, gay men followed by African Americans have been disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. According to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) in 2005, African Americans made up roughly 13% of the U.S. population; however, Blacks accounted for almost 50% of all new reported cases of HIV/AIDS. The purpose of this study was to examine various social and psychological variables relating to HIV/AIDS prevention among African-American college students. The study also examined pertinent factors that were related to and predictive of sustained condom use within the defined study population. Lastly, the study examined any relative vulnerabilities to HIV/AIDS among African American male and female college students. By examining the social and psychological variables and the factors associated with sustained condom use among African American college students, academics and practitioners would be able to develop better communicative strategies to decrease the spread of HIV/AIDS.

One hundred thirty African American college students participated in the study. The study found that the participants had moderately high to high levels of behavioral involvement/information seeking behaviors in terms of HIV/AIDS. The students also had very high levels of knowledge about HIV/AIDS and they showed positive attitudes toward the disease and toward people who were HIV/AIDS positive. The study also showed that there was a positive relationship between knowledge of HIV/AIDS infection through non-sexual contact and attitudes related to blaming someone for being HIV/AIDS positive. In the sample, the study indicated that higher levels of HIV/AIDS cognitive involvement were associated with more information seeking behaviors. In terms of safe sex practices, the study concluded that knowledge of HIV/AIDS sexual contact was an important predictor of safe sex behaviors among the sampled students. Lastly, outcome expectancy of convenience and positive feelings of condom use were both strong predictors of condom use among the respondents.

The results show that it is important for scholars and practitioners to continue to design mass media campaigns that improve knowledge levels and continue to reinforce positive attitudes about HIV/AIDS among African American students. It is critical for mass media messages to emphasize the importance of using condoms during sex because the results of the study showed positive feelings about condom usage resulting in higher rates of condom use.