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Abstract

Purpose: To assess African American college freshman students’ knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors related to HIV. Method: A descriptive exploratory design with survey methodology was used to carry out the study. The participants were a convenience sample of 222 African American college freshman students with an average age of 18 years. The Maine HIV Prevention Community Planning Group questionnaire was used to elicit information from participants. Results: The majority of respondents were knowledgeable about HIV prevention and transmission (M = 9.36 on a maximum of 10, SD = .951). Their knowledge score was positively and statistically associated with whether or not they are likely to use a condom the next time they have sex (r = .18, p = .007) at an alpha of .01. The knowledge scores did not correlate with age, HIV risk, and the number of sexual partners. The respondents’ high level of HIV knowledge and their positive attitudes towards sexual health did not prevent them from engaging in risky sexual behaviors. The respondents identified schools (48.2%) and social gatherings (34.7%) as their two main venues for meeting sexual partners. They also listed television (86.6%) and school programs (70.3%) as their two main sources of HIV information. Conclusion: The findings indicated that further examination of the design of HIV intervention programs for African American college students may be necessary in order for the interventions to be effective. Health professionals and educators should then be concerned about the students’ sexual behaviors and determine what can be done to improve their sexual health.

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