Date of Conferral





Public Health


Peter Anderson


African American women are 18 times more likely to contract HIV than are European American women, yet they are less likely to be tested for HIV. Lack of HIV testing leads to late diagnosis and increased mortality from HIV-related illnesses. Based on the health belief model, this correlational study analyzed the extent to which HIV stigma mediated the relationship between perceived benefits or perceived severity of HIV and the uptake of HIV testing among African American women in New Jersey. A total of 93 African American women aged 18 and older who resided in New Jersey completed online questionnaires. Data were gathered via the Perceptions of Stigmatization by Others for Seeking Help (PSOSH) scale, the Benefits of HIV Testing Scale, and the Severity of HIV Infection Scale. Although there was a relationship between stigma and perceived severity of HIV, this relationship did not translate into uptake of HIV testing. Perceived benefits of HIV testing did show an impact on uptake. Based on the findings of this study, research and intervention programs should concentrate on the potential benefits of HIV testing among African American women. Through dissemination of these findings, positive social change that may result through increased rates of HIV testing in this population and ultimately better health outcomes for patients who have HIV. Additionally, the findings on HIV benefits could be used as supporting data for policymakers to improve HIV/AIDS prevention programs aimed at African American women by emphasizing the benefits of testing.