Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Lydia Forsythe


HIV/AIDS became a significant concern in the United States (U.S.) during the 1980s and in recent years has increased the most among people living in underserved urban areas, particularly impacting Black women ages 24-35. Guided by the social learning theory, this phenomenological study explored the lived experiences and behaviors of Black women in the south in order to understand their sexual health decisions and how those decisions impact the spread of HIV/AIDS among this group. The central research question focused on understanding the sexual decision making of Black women in Georgia, from the perspective of the client and provider. Convenience sampling was used to recruit 21 participants at 2 HIV testing facilities. Interview data were collected from 9 clients, consisting of Black women ages 24-35, and 12 providers, consisting of HIV testing coordinators and administrators. Data were subjected to an inductive coding procedure and were then organized around themes. Findings suggest that clients perceived a lack of education and limited access to healthcare, due to socioeconomic status and rising medical costs, as contributing factors to the sexual decisions of Black women. Providers differed in suggesting that community distrust and lack of provider empathy and awareness were the primary factors due to broken relationships between provider and client. By understanding the sexual decision making of Black women in Georgia, this research can foster social change by identifying and creating educational programs heavily focused on the delivery of positive sexual health messages aimed at reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS among this group.