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Perceived Risk, Decisional Balance, and HIV Testing Practices in College Students

Menser, Michelle (2010) Perceived Risk, Decisional Balance, and HIV Testing Practices in College Students. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Previous research has found that college students widely participate in HIV risk behaviors, including inconsistent or lack of condom use, multiple sex partners, and sexual activities while under the influence of alcohol. However, most college students do not perceive themselves at risk for HIV and further, the majority of college students have never been tested for HIV. In an effort to understand the reasons undergraduate students may choose or not choose to get tested for HIV, and elucidate possible points for public health intervention, a survey was administered to undergraduate students at the University of Pittsburgh. Survey data was collected from 440 University of Pittsburgh undergraduate students on the pros and cons of HIV testing, their perceived risk for HIV as well as the number of times they had ever been tested. Chi-square tests were used to determine the relationship between decisional balance items and HIV testing as well as perceived risk and HIV testing. One-way ANOVA was used to determine any association between HIV testing and demographic variables.This study found that only 11.8% of students had ever received an HIV test. The likelihood of testing increased with age, while gender and ethnicity were not significant predictors of HIV testing. Students with high perceived risk were significantly more likely to have received an HIV test in their lifetime. Additionally, decisional balance items around the topics of "security and responsibility" and "fear of needles" were also found to be significant with HIV testing. The low rate of HIV testing in undergraduate college students is of great public health concern given the high prevalence of risk behaviors in this population. Students who participate in risk behaviors and are not tested for HIV limit their own ability to take advantage of efficacious treatments and put sex or drug partners at risk for contracting the virus. Research that helps uncover the behavioral determinants of HIV testing in the college student population and reveals potential points of intervention is of great public health significance.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairDocumét, Patricia
Committee MemberKeane, Christopher Rcrkcity@pitt.eduCRKCITY
Committee MemberSchelbert, Kavitha
Date: 28 June 2010
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 5 April 2010
Approval Date: 28 June 2010
Submission Date: 9 April 2010
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: college students; decisional balance; HIV testing; HIV/AIDS; perceived risk
Other ID:, etd-04092010-134835
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:35
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:39


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