Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

K. VanDerLinden

Second Supervisor

E. Engelbride


The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate college students’ knowledge, behaviors, and attitudes regarding HIV/AIDS. This study also sought to explore why students who had HIV/AIDS knowledge participated in risky sexual behaviors, and the factors may be influencing them to do so. The theoretical framework of the health belief model (HBM) aided in the exploration of college students’ rationales for sexual risk-taking and perceptions of HIV infection. The study used interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) and face-to-face semi-structured interviews, to collect data. Purposeful sampling was used to select 15 participants from a 4-year accredited university in New York State. Data analysis was conducted by reviewing audiotapes of every interview and coding the written transcripts. Results revealed that college students lack proper HIV knowledge and are often miseducated about the severity of HIV/AIDS. Participants were engaging in risky sexual behavior by not using condoms, not having conversations about their sexual history, and not getting tested regularly for HIV. Participants who were in a relationship expressed pregnancy to be more of a relevant risk than HIV. Overall, participants felt “untouchable” when it came to HIV/AIDS because they felt it was not relevant to them. They are generations removed from the AIDS epidemic and do not see HIV as a threat. It is recommended that campus wellness organizations and administration develop and implement HIV inclusive policies as well as educational initiatives for the campus community. These initiatives can bring HIV awareness to campus, and hopefully aid in behavior change for students to make better sexual health decisions.

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