The influences of knowledge of HIV/AIDS and self-esteem on the sexual practices of college students

Danielle S. Hollar1, William E. Snizek2
1Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, United States
2Medical University of South Carolina, United States
Cite this article:  Hollar, D. S., & Snizek, W. E. (1996). The influences of knowledge of HIV/AIDS and self-esteem on the sexual practices of college students. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 24(1), 75-86.

Volume 24 Issue 1 | e824 | Published: February 1996 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.1996.24.1.75

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Using the Health Belief Model as a theoretical starting point, the present study extends previous research on health protective behavior by exploring the relationship among knowledge, self-esteem and students’ proclivity to engage in risky sexual behavior. To test the Model, data were analyzed from a sample of undergraduate students at a large land-grant university. Results indicate that students with high levels of self-esteem, as well as high levels of knowledge of HIV/AIDS, report engaging in safer behavioral practices, for the non- conventional sexual behaviors, more so than those with low and moderate levels of self-esteem. With respect to those more conventional sexual behavioral practices, such as unprotected vaginal/penile intercourse and unprotected sex with multiple sex partners, those with high self-esteem surprisingly reported more risky sexual behaviors than those with low and moderate self-esteem. These results indicate that both self-esteem and knowledge operate differently depending on the type of sexual behavior involved – conventional or nonconventional. Such differences need to be taken into account when using the Health Belief Model in evaluating HIV/AIDS protective behavior among US college students.


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