Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


Aimee Ferraro


HIV is an emerging epidemic among young transgender women of color (YTWC). Researchers have documented the challenges and issues that YTWC encounter, including discrimination, isolation, and violence. However, little is known about whether social support can impact these challenges as an avenue to improve HIV preventive behaviors and HIV status. Using secondary data from the Life Skills HIV study, this research assessed how social support affects HIV preventive behaviors among 298 YTWC residing in Chicago. The study was grounded in the modified social-ecological model and Spearman’s rank correlation and logistic regression analyses was used to determine whether there was an association between social support and HIV preventive behaviors, (in terms of 4 types of drug use history, 2 types of HIV test results), and condom use self-efficacy (in terms of 2 perceptions of condom use). Results indicated that social support was not associated with illicit drug use, HIV testing history, and HIV testing status. However, perceived social support significantly increased HIV testing communication, that is, intention of asking a new partner to do an HIV test (OR = 1.195, 95% CI = [1.011, 1.413], p = 0.037) and increased condom use self-efficacy, the ability to discuss safer sex with a new partner (r = 0.227), p = <0.001) in YTWC. Implications for positive social change include evidence that social support should be included in the design of all tailored, population-specific safer-sex health prevention programs for YTWC.