Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Richard Rothenberg

Second Advisor

Danielle Gilmore

Third Advisor

Sarita Davis


Introduction: According to Paxton et. Al (2013), HIV/AIDS continues to be a health crisis for African Americans, with a significant impact on women. In 2010 in the United States, African American women made up only 13% of the U.S. female population, but were 64% of the estimated 9,500 new infections in U.S. women (Ivy, 2014). Although there are factors at each level of the socioecological model that have an impact on African American women’s performance of HIV risk behaviors, it is important to address the major influences of community-level factors on health behaviors. The focus of this study is to identify, examine, and discuss community and neighborhood influences that promote HIV risk behaviors in African American women living in metro Atlanta, Georgia.

Methods: In the Sojourner Syndrome Study conducted by Dr. Sarita Davis, an exploratory qualitative method using in-depth interviews was used to gather information from participants. Twenty-three interviews from the Sojourner Syndrome Study were used for this study. The participants were African American women, ages 18 and up, and were living in Atlanta, Georgia.

Results: The results of this study indicate that the socioeconomic disadvantages due to lack of access to healthcare, drug-infested communities, exposure to different types of violence, stress, abuse (physical and sexual), and poverty all increase African American women’s risk of HIV.

Conclusion: Community organizations should focus on providing effective and culturally-tailored programs and interventions that seek to address individual, family-specific, and community-specific behaviors around HIV risk and making healthy life and sexual choices.