The Disabling Nature of the HIV / AIDS Discourse Among HBCU Students: How Postcolonial Racial Identities and Gender Expectations Influence HIV Prevention Attitudes and Sexual Risk-taking
This analysis reveals how some African American college students respond to the discourse on HIV / AIDS as a social disability. The methodology includes surveys (n = 217), focus groups and interviews with convenience samples of students attending a consortium of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the U.S. The findings show that the perceived risk of HIV is high in this community, that nearly half of students use condoms inconsistently even though they are well aware of the risks of unprotected sex and their levels of HIV / AIDS knowledge are high. Social stigma, gender role expectations, an emphasis on “monogamous” relationships and a sense of fatalism explain the relatively low rates of condom use and patterns of inconsistent condom use. The article concludes with the recommendation that HBCUs develop more curricular and co-curricular interventions to combat HIV / AIDS stigma, problematic gender constructions and sexual risk taking.