Term of Award

Spring 2001

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Department

Department of Sociology

Committee Chair

Peggy Hargis

Committee Member 1

Susan Kinsella

Committee Member 2

Pidi Zhang

Abstract

Since the early 1980s, when the correlates of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) were first identified, certain segments of the population were thought to be at greater risk than others for contracting the disease (Centers for Disease Control, 1981). This classification of the population into "high" risk groups has resulted in some groups being stigmatized, which include not only the persons affected by the disease but also those who are affiliated with the high risk groups. Almost 20 years have passed since the initial onset of AIDS and yet the same groups continue to be more highly associated with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) risk. This study uses the AIDS Public Information Data Set (APIDS) to assess the current risk classification scheme used by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Do current AIDS rates justify the categorization of individuals into the current CDC defined "high risk" groups? I argue that the CDC's classification system marginalizes some groups while potentially providing a false sense of security to others. Do individuals engaging in behaviors categorized as "high risk behaviors for HIV/AIDS perceive their risk to be high? Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS) data will be used to assess perceived risk of individuals for HIV/AIDS.

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