Date of Conferral







Tracy Marsh


Sex education through the public school system has been identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an excellent vehicle by which HIV prevention education can be presented to students, thereby decreasing the rate of HIV infection among young men who have sex with men (YMSM). However, YMSM continue to be at high risk for HIV infection in the United States despite educational efforts to prevent infection. The purpose of this qualitative study using a phenomenological approach was to explore what impact school-based HIV prevention education had on YMSM in the past, and what effect that education has had on their current sexual behaviors. The theoretical foundation for this study was the health belief model. Individual 1-hour interviews were conducted with 13 YMSM (ages 21-35) who received HIV prevention education in California. Interviews were analyzed for common themes using a phenomenological approach. Results of this study suggest that participants were not utilizing safer techniques taught in the school HIV prevention education because there was a lack of curriculum consistency, LGBTQ content, and classroom management, and the impact of stigma and homophobia on YMSM. These results support the health belief model. Findings support that positive social change can be achieved by providing standardized, all-inclusive, non-judgmental, HIV prevention education program, in a classroom environment where it is safe to receive same-sex sexual information. This should decrease the number of HIV+ test results among YMSM.