Date of Conferral





Health Education and Promotion


Yitza A. Rojas


According to recent studies, African American females are most susceptible to HSV-2 and are often asymptomatically diagnosed. Yet, the perceived benefit of discussing sexual health as well as recognizing a need to discuss HSV-2 with a healthcare provider was an identified gap in the existing research and current study findings. The purpose of this qualitative interpretive study was to understand the experiences of African American females who received an asymptomatic HSV-2 diagnosis. The health belief model constructs guided this study. Outlined through semi-structured interviews were the experiences of seven African American females diagnosed with HSV-2 in Fulton County, GA, as well as examined barriers and challenges discussing HSV-2 with healthcare providers. The data were coded and analyzed and indicated how the participants described a lack of primary prevention knowledge pre-diagnosis, and how they evolved from the initial hurt and shame post-diagnosis. Furthermore, literature and participants emphasized that routine STD or STI testing does not automatically include HSV-2 screening nor discussion about it. Additionally highlighted, a decrease in condom use arises when emotional commitment is established, and a lower perception of severity occurs when controlling symptoms with medication is understood and communicated. Results from the study also highlighted that not all participants preferred African American healthcare providers, and participants were pleased that sexual partners were supportive of their diagnosis disclosures. African American females and their corresponding providers could benefit from health education initiatives that address this information as well as the results from this study, thus creating positive social change.