Date of Award

Fall 11-30-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Richard Rothenberg, MD, MPH

Second Advisor

Rhonda Conerly Holliday, Ph.D., M.A.



Association between HIV/AIDS Education and Reduced Risky Sexual Behaviors amongst African American Adolescents living in the United States in 2013


Jasmine A. Rockwell

November 30, 2016

Purpose: Adolescent contraction of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is a major public health problem in the United States. Sex education is usually regarded as effective in increasing HIV/AIDS knowledge and helps to lead to a reduction in risky sexual behaviors. Yet, there are still concerns whether sex education will actually increase sexual behavior in adolescents According to the CDC, in 2010, adolescents aged 13-24 accounted for an estimated 26% of all new HIV infections in the United States with African American adolescents accounting for an estimated 57% (7,000) of all new HIV infections among youth. There is a critical need to understand if sex education in schools can help adolescents reduce risky sexual behaviors. The objective of this study is to explore the association between HIV/AIDS education and reduced risky sexual behaviors amongst African American adolescents living in the United States in 2013 using the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS).

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted using data from the YRBS. The participants include 9th through 12th grade public or private high school students in the United States who have taken 2013 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) in school. The YRBS is a national school-based survey held by CDC and state, territorial, tribal, and local surveys conducted by state, territorial, and local education and health agencies and tribal governments. A total of 2880 African American adolescents and 5382 White American adolescents were included in the study.

Results: A total of five outcomes were assessed: had sex before 13, had sex with 4 or more people in life, used alcohol/drugs last time had sex, used condom last time had sex, and risky sexual behavior which combined the other 4 outcomes. The primary exposure variable was whether participants received HIV/AIDS education at School. When looking at the multivariable model for the association between engaging in risky sexual behavior and other participant characteristics for African American adolescents and White American Adolescents, having 5 or more drinks within the last 30 days (AOR = 2.52, 95% CI: 1.91, 3.33) and using marijuana one or more times in the last 30 days (AOR = 3.58, 95% CI: 2.68, 4.77) were significantly associated with risky sexual behavior, after adjusting for all covariates in the model. Also, adolescent females (AOR = 0.62, 95% CI: 0.48, 0.79) were more likely than males and African American adolescents (AOR = 1.63, 95% CI: 1.28, 2.18) were more likely than White adolescents to engage in risky sexual behaviors after adjusting for all variables in the model. Age and ever taught about HIV/AIDS at school were not significantly associated with risky sexual behavior, after adjusting for all covariates.

Conclusions: There was not an association found between receiving HIV/AIDS education in school and reduced risky sexual behaviors. Although this study did not find evidence that HIV/AIDS education in school can reduce risky sexual behavior in African American adolescents when compared amongst each other or when compared to White American Adolescents, the literature has shown numerous examples that HIV/AIDS education is effective in reducing risky sexual behaviors. There needs to be further studies that exam how in depth educators are going when describing HIV/AIDS risk factors in sex education classes. Improved school-based HIV/AIDS education classes will yield better results in future studies.