Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Exhibit Hall NA Poster Sessions (Tampa Convention Center)
Anxiety provoked by the risk of infection often motivates those at risk to take protective action. Reports of declining self-protective behaviors for HIV infection among some groups have raised concern among those combating the disease that caution may be fading. The purpose of this study was to examine HIV anxiety in a group of African American college students and assess their self-protective strategies. The Multidimensional AIDS Anxiety Questionnaire (Snell and Finney, 1989) was administered to 270 African American college students enrolled in a personal health course at a historically black university in the southeast. This 50-item questionnaire utilized a 5-point Likert scale (scored 0 to 4) to define 6 dimensions of AIDS-related anxiety: physiological arousal (physical manifestations of anxiety), fear (of possibly becoming infected), cognitive worry (due to media messages about HIV), sexual inhibition (to engage in sex with someone new due to anxiety about HIV), discussion inhibition (reluctance to talk to a new partner about HIV), and fear of exposure (to HIV in a past sexual encounter). Data were entered into a personal computer and Chi-square analysis performed utilizing SPSS. Results indicated that HIV anxiety was low on all dimensions: discussion inhibition = .6578, fear of exposure = .7802, physiological arousal = .8331, cognitive worry = 1.0889, sexual inhibition = 1.2025, and fear = 1.3883. Females displayed less anxiety than males on each dimension: physiological arousal (p < .05, 120.852), fear (p < .01, 77.838), fear of exposure (p < .01, 54.571), sexual inhibition (p < .01, 88.426), cognitive worry (p < .05, 61.737), and discussion inhibition (p < .05, 46.962). These findings indicate that this group feels little anxiety in discussing HIV with a new partner, worries little they may have been previously exposed to HIV, feels little physical anxiety about HIV, are not greatly concerned with media messages about HIV, are little concerned about HIV when initiating sex with someone new, and have little concern about getting infected with HIV. Fifty-two percent of students indicated they were abstinent and 62 % of those sexually active indicated they adhered to prescribed safer sex practices. Findings suggest that low anxiety levels reflect confidence in self-protective behaviors rather than neglect. While these results are encouraging, the study also indicates a continuing need for risk reduction education among this group.