HIV-related knowledge and perceptions by academic major: Implications for university interventions

Matthew Lee Smith, Lisa L. La Place, Mindy Menn, Kelly L. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Most universities offer human sexuality courses, although they are not required for graduation. While students in health-related majors may receive sexuality education in formal settings, majority of college students never receive formal sexual health or HIV/AIDSrelated education, which may lead to elevated engagement in high-risk sexual behaviors. This study examines perceived knowledge about HIV/AIDS, perceived risk, and perceived consequences among college students by two distinct classifications of academic majors. Data were collected from 510 college students. Binary and multinomial logistic regressions were performed to compare HIV-related covariates by academic major category. Limited differences were observed by science, technology, engineering, and mathematics categorization. Relative to health and kinesiology majors, those who self-reported being "completely knowledgeable" about HIVwere less likely to be physical sciences, mathematics, engineering, and business (PMEB) (ORD0.41, P D0.047) or education, humanities, and social sciences majors (ORD0.25, P D0.004). PMEB majors were less likely to report behavioral factors as a risk for contracting HIV (ORD0.86, P D0.004) and perceived acquiring HIV would be more detrimental to their quality of life (ORD2.14, P D0.012), but less detrimental to their mental well-being (ORD0.58, P D0.042). Findings can inform collegewide campaigns and interventions to raise HIV/AIDS awareness and improve college health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number18
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Issue numberMAR
StatePublished - Mar 12 2014


  • AIDS
  • Academic major
  • College students
  • HIV
  • Perceived risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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