Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Epidemiology (Medicine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Seth Schwartz

Second Committee Member

Seth Schwartz

Third Committee Member

Margaret Byrne

Fourth Committee Member

David J. Lee

Fifth Committee Member

Rueben C. Warren


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have confirmed persistent disproportionate burdens of HIV/AIDS among Black populations in the United States. While treatment advancements have greatly improved qualities of life for persons living with HIV/AIDS, prevention efforts remain focused to reduce incidence among vulnerable populations. Research distinguishing emerging adulthood in the US has characterized it entailing identity formations influencing sexual risk-taking. Religiosity and spirituality have remained pivotal in Black cultures influencing beliefs and normative behaviors around pre-marital sex. The Praying Hands study combines ethnic, demographic, contextual and socio-environmental factors to investigate influences of religiosity and spirituality on HIV risks among Black, college-attending emerging adult populations. By analyzing data from the Multi-Site University Study of Identity and Culture (MUSIC), Praying Hands furthers efforts to consider both individual- and group-level factors to enhance HIV/AIDS risk assessments. A recommendation for further study is enclosed.


HIV/AIDS; religion; spirituality; college students; Black; sex