Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Health Services


Jeanne Connors


Two significant public health concerns that threaten both the physical and mental health of African-American women are Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). African-American women (AAW) in the south carry the greatest burden of HIV and disproportionately represent the region with an incidence of 71% for new HIV infections, and elevated rates of morbidity and mortality. In 2013, the murder rate among AAW was 2.5 times higher than it was among Caucasian women. Most of the published studies that explored the association between IPV and HIV had mixed populations, did not explore topics unique to AAs, or were qualitative studies. The aim of this study was to assess the associations between colorism, IPV, and high-risk sexual behaviors (HRSB)/HIV-risk among AAW and determine if colorism was a mediator in the IPV-HRSB relationship. The theory of power and gender and the social cognitive theory provided the theoretical framework of this study. The dissemination of this self-assessed quantitative, cross-sectional survey design was to a homogeneous sample of 143 women. The analysis of the variables used correlation statistics and linear regression. Findings revealed a significant relationship between IPV-HRSB (r = .882, p =.001), colorism-IPV (r2 = .371, p = .001) and colorism-HRSB (r = .377, p = .001); however, colorism did not mediate the IPV-HRSB relationship. This study has implications for positive social change in that practitioners may gain a better understanding of colorism's influence on IPV and HRSB, and may serve to modify existing programs. This knowledge may subsequently help to decrease adverse behaviors that are unique to AAW prone to IPV with an increased HIV-risk as a result of colorism.