Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. R.Wayne Fuqua

Second Advisor

Dr. Patricia M. Meinhold

Third Advisor

Dr. Bradley Huitema

Fourth Advisor

Dr. James Croteau


HIV/AIDS prevention research continues to target populations in which AIDS is already responsible for a significant number of deaths. Since an AIDS diagnosis often indicates the transmission of HIV several years earlier, targeting groups currently manifesting AIDS neglects those groups which may be at risk for transmission of HIV today. Among the lowest incidence in known cases of AIDS are women who have sex with women. Despite a preponderance of biomedical research which implicates vaginal secretions and blood products as vehicles in HIV transmission, there remains only a minimal effort to educate these w om en regarding their risk of HIV or STD infection. The present study utilized a program matic line of exploratory research designed to: (a) assess the potential risk of exposure to HIV/STDs within a community of women who have sex with women, (b) develop a culture specific prevention program, and (c) implement and evaluate such a program.

Results from Study #1 suggest that w om en w ho have sex with women are at risk for STDs and HIV via their sexual behavior. Study #2 determined the cultural aspects of prevention unique to this community. Study #3 implemented and evaluated a prevention program . The program consisted of a workshop designed to affect knowledge, attitudes, Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. and risk perceptions, as well as precautionary sexual behavior through the training of safer sex skills. The workshop was followed-up by peer support meetings designed to address social norm change and problem-solving related to maintenance of behavioral change. Dependent variables included self-report measures of H IV /STD -related know ledge, risk perceptions, and attitudes, as w ell as self-reports of frequency of engagement in risky sexual behaviors. Results indicated that this sample of lesbian and bisexual women were quite knowledgeable with regard to general HTV/AIDS knowledge and that their risk perceptions were affected by their participation in the program. The sample's attitudes toward safer sex improved following their participation in the intervention . Frequencies of engagement in risky sexual behaviors varied across individual subjects: how ever, there appeared to be an indication of decreased risk among those who participated in the prevention program.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access