Degree Name

DrPH (Doctor of Public Health)


Public Health

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Megan Quinn

Committee Members

Liang Wang, Charlotte Powers


The incidence of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is highest in the southern states of the United States (US), with adolescents in this region being one of the most affected populations in the country. A limited amount of information is available on adolescent HIV risk behaviors in the southern states, specifically focusing on race and gender. The purpose of this study was to use the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Youth Risk Behaviors Survey (YRBS) for high school students in the southern states for 2011 and 2013 to examine the influence of race and gender on 1) early sexual initiation, 2) number of sexual partners, and 3) condom use. Descriptive statistics and multiple logistic regression was used for the analysis. A total of 6,244 (6.7%) students reported early sexual initiation, 13,121 (14.1%) reported having multiple sex partners, and 11,820 (41.1%) reported condom use in southern states for 2011 and 2013. Minority males were greater than 10 times more likely to engage in early sexual initiation compared to white females (OR-10.40; 95% Confidence Interval (CI)-9.03-11.98). Minorities and males were more likely to have multiple sex partners compared to whites and females (OR- 1.84; CI-1.73-1.95, OR-2.20; CI-2.07-2.34, respectively). Minority males were over 2 times more likely to use condoms compared to white females (OR-2.04; CI-1.87-2.23). There was a statistically significant association between the three sexual health behaviors and psychosocial factors, such as dating violence, forced sex, body weight perception, and substance use before sex. Gender and race along with psychosocial factors were associated with HIV risk behaviors for high school students in the southern states. These preliminary findings could potentially be used to target HIV/AIDS awareness and preventative actions to populations affected by the HIV burden in the southern states.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.

Included in

Epidemiology Commons