Date of Award

Summer 8-13-2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Sheryl Strasser, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Richard Rothenberg, M.D.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: The fastest growing segment of the U.S. population is among individuals aged 50 and older. However, advanced age is not protective against HIV.

AIM: The purpose of this study is to examine individual characteristics (gender, age, education) as well as environmental and behavioral factors (doctor visits and IDU) that may be linked with HIV status among older heterosexual African American adults. The factors associated with HIV status that were examined include education level, IDU within the last six months, non-injected drugs that were used within the last six months and the length of time since the last doctor visit.

METHODS: The original study used participant-driven sampling to identify seeds in high risk zip codes within the City of Atlanta to complete questionnaire and provide biospecimens. This study focuses on the interviews and test results of participants ages 50 and older. Associations of demographic characteristics, behavioral risk factors and HIV status were analyzed using Pearson chi-square, univariatae, and multivariate tests.

RESULTS: African Americans who have injected drugs within the last six months are more likely to be HIV positive than those that have not injected drugs in the last six months.

DISCUSSION: Results of this study reveal that there are unique patterns of risk taking behavior among older adults. These findings can provide potential intervention opportunities that may prevent HIV transmission among this vulnerable, increasing segment of the population.

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