Date of Conferral





Public Health


Katie Callahan


The college student population has a high prevalence of sexually transmitted infections (STI)s due to their participation in higher risk sexual behaviors such as serial relationships, drug and alcohol use and abuse, and inconsistent use of condoms. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between student exposure of sexual education and their sexual behaviors among college going students in Virginia. Guided by the health belief model, this quantitative cross-sectional study involved a random selection process to recruit college students to test the hypothesis. The research questions were designed to examine participants' exposure to sexual education, sexual behaviors, perceptions of contracting STIs with no condom use, and their perceptions of STI education added to college curriculums. The sample included 656 participants who ranged between 18-24 years old and were enrolled in a Virginia 4-year public university. Data were collected through an online survey. A multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to analyze the variables sexual education (independent) and sexual behaviors (dependent). Prior research has indicated that STI prevention education programs implemented within a schools' curriculum has assisted in bridging the gap between public health and education. The study results have shown that the students who had some form of sexual education and were sexually active are less likely to participate in risky sexual practices. The study also indicated that 92.5% of the participants perceive that adding STI courses to the college curriculum will help prevent STIs among college students. These results highlight the sexual health of Virginia college students and promote positive social change among Virginia's college campuses by identifying the inconsistencies of STI knowledge and practices, which can encourage better education.