Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Pamela Remer


Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) are infectious diseases wreaking irreparable havoc on the lives of millions all around the world. Of those infected and affected by HIV in the United States, African Americans disproportionately bear the burden of this disease, which has resulted in a major crisis within the African American community. In 2010, African Americans accounted for approximately 44% of all new HIV infections among adolescents, 13 years of age and older, and adults [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2012). These statistics become even more dismal when both race and gender enter the equation. In regards to global HIV/AIDS, the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age is AIDS-related illnesses (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS [UNAIDS], 2012). According to the CDC (2012), 64% of estimated new HIV infections in women in the United States in 2010 were in African Americans.

This study examined the effectiveness of increasing protective HIV behaviors through the use of the SAHARA program, a computer-based, gender-specific and culturally appropriate HIV behavioral intervention program. More specifically, the SAHARA intervention was created to encourage consistent condom use during penetrative vaginal sex through mediating components of the intervention such as HIV knowledge, condom use self-efficacy, barriers to condom use, and frequency of partner communication for a population of African American women living in areas of Kentucky and Georgia. Convenience sampling was used to recruit participants from college campuses and community areas. Fifty-two African American female study participants completed surveys through the use of a quasi-experimental non-randomized pretest-posttest design.

Significant group differences were observed for scores on STD/HIV Risk Behavior Knowledge and Condom Barrier Scale. Results suggest that the SAHARA prevention intervention produced clinically significant changes in STD/HIV knowledge and perception of condom barriers in the SAHARA group compared to the control group.