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Publication #FCS8874

HIV/AIDS: Raising Minority Community Awareness1

Eboni J. Baugh and Camille Callender2

Figure 1. 

AIDS as an Epidemic

Over a quarter of a century ago, we first learned of a devastating disease known as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) which can develop into Auto Immunity Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV (without AIDS), and another 36,828 are actually living with AIDS. These statistics do not take into account the number of unknown cases.

In the early stages of AIDS discovery, the media portrayed images of AIDS as being a disease that predominantly affected white, gay males in mainly urban population areas. This portrayal caused many heterosexual Caucasians as well as African Americans and other minority groups to assume that they were not at risk. Today however, AIDS in the United States has infected a high proportion of minorities, especially African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos. Racial categorization alone is not a risk factor for HIV/AIDS, but certain racial groups are more prone to life situations that put them at risk for contracting the virus. For example, high rates of sexually transmitted diseases, lower socioeconomic status, decreased access to health care, intravenous drug use, secreted homosexuality, and language barriers all contribute to high prevalence of HIV/AIDS among African Americans and Hispanic/Latinos.

Solutions to this problem lie within efforts targeted at and within minority communities.

Acknowledging Behaviors

Planned behavior theories suggest that behavior is driven by intentions. This offers promise for HIV/AIDS prevention, especially in minority communities. By utilizing correct intentions, behavioral change should follow. Changing behavior involves targeting:

  • the behavior itself (what one is doing);

  • normative beliefs (society’s view);

  • controlled beliefs (laws);

  • positive outlook on the above beliefs.

By engaging in the above actions, an individual can understand their beliefs about HIV/AIDS and apply these beliefs to encourage a safe sexual lifestyle and practice safe needle use. For example, deciding to use a condom during sexual activity goes along with society’s view on practicing safe sex, and therefore allows you to feel better and more secure with this behavior.

Being HIV/AIDS Conscious

The following list of questions is useful to find out how HIV/AIDS conscious people really are. Also, this questionnaire helps people to examine their own behaviors and acknowledge how their behavior relates to this deadly virus.

1. Have you ever had unprotected sex? (YES or NO)

If "YES," how many times?

2. Would you

  • Strongly Disagree

  • Disagree

  • Neither Agree nor Disagree

  • Agree, or

  • Strongly Agree

with the following statements:
  • I am uncomfortable having sex with my partner without a condom.

  • I feel good communicating with my partner about various treatment methods.

4. Have you ever been tested for HIV? (YES or NO)

5. Did you have any interaction with your partner after being tested? (YES or NO)

6. Have the results positively affected your relationship? (YES or NO)

7. Did you and your partner receive relationship couseling after receiving the results of your HIV test? (YES or NO)

If you answered NO to questions 4–7, you may want to consider learning much more about HIV/AIDS and prevention measures.

Prevention at Its Finest

The best avenue for HIV/AIDS prevention is early intervention and education. People are less likely to engage in risky behaviors if they are taught the proper ways to handle situations at a young age (prior to early adolescence). The following are effective prevention programs that minorities of all ages can adopt in their communities in order to keep themselves HIV/AIDS aware:

• Chicago HIV Prevention and Adolescent Mental Health Project (CHAMP) The program aims at changing individuals’ behaviors (how they relate/interact/learn from their parents/guardians), deterring them from involvement in risky sexual behaviors, and helping adolescents focus on academics and other favorable characteristics.

• Sisters Informing Sisters About Topics on AIDS (SISTA) [February 2012]. A program that helps with HIV prevention intervention for African American adult women.

• Women Involved in Life Learning from Other Women (WILLOW) resources/factsheets/WILLOW.htm. Helps women living with HIV decrease their HIV transmission risk.

• Sistering, Informing, Healing, Living, and Empowering (SIHLE) resources/factsheets/SiHLE.htm. A program to reduce the risk of HIV amongst sexually active African American adolescent females.

• Us Helping Us, People Into Living (UHU) Specializes in HIV education, prevention, and risk reduction in the black community.

Implications for Extension

The understanding of theory influencing behavior and knowledge about available outreach programs and their practices provides a resource to help prevent or cope with stressors such as HIV/AIDS. Such knowledge could be employed by Extension professionals and community leaders to educate youth, couples, and families on safe sex practices, therefore reducing risk for HIV/AIDS within certain minority groups.


HIV/AIDS in the United States

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and National Institutes of Health

HIV Infection in Minority Populations

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and National Institutes of Health


Baptiste, D. R., Paikoff, R. L., McKay, M. M., Madison-Boyd, S., Coleman, D. Bell, C. (2005). Collaborating with an urban community to develop an HIV and AIDS prevention program for black youth and families. Behavior Modification, 29(2), 370–415.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2007). A Glance at the HIV/AIDS Epidemic. Retrieved April 10, 2007 from

DiClemente, R. J., & Wingood, G. M. (2006). Enhancing adoption of evidence- based HIV interventions: Promotion of a suite of HIV prevention interventions for African American women. AIDS Education & Prevention, 18 (Suppl. A), 161–170.

Fishbein, M., & Ajzen, I. (2005). Theory-based behavior change interventions: Comments on Hobbis and Sutton. Journal of Health Psychology, 10, 27-31.

Morris, M., Handcock, M. S., Miller, W. C., Ford, C. A., Schmitz, J. L., Hobbs, M. M., et al. (2006). Prevalence of HIV Infection Among Young Adults in the United States: Results from the Add Health Study. American Journal of Public Health, 96(6), 1091-1097.

National Institutes of Health, (2005). HIV infection in minority populations. Retrieved March 2, 2009 from



This document is FCS8874, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date March 2009. Visit the EDIS website at


Eboni J. Baugh, assistant professor, and Camille Callender, graduate student, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences; Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences; University of Florida; Gainesville 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.