Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in General Experimental Psychology



First Reader/Committee Chair

Garcia, Donna


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) are ailments that have a social and political impact in the U.S. Since their discovery more than three decades ago, there has been an intense focus on eradicating these deadly diseases. Although there has been a lot of progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS, there are communities still disproportionately affected by it. Based on data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one such community is young adults age 20 to 24 (CDC, 2016a). These young adults are at the focal center of the HIV/AIDS epidemic for various reasons; yet, this group is often overlooked in HIV literature and prevention/intervention strategies. Additionally, this community is known for inconsistent condom use, although there have been countless public service announcements (PSAs) and interventions promoting the use of condoms as a means of preventing not only unwanted pregnancy but the contraction of sexual transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV/AIDS. The aim of the current study was to test a comprehensive moderated mediation model and assess factors associated with condom use among early young adults age 18 to 24 above and beyond known variables such as age, gender, and ethnicity/race. These variables included participants’ age of sexual debut, number of lifetime sexual partners, perceived threat of contracting STIs and HIV/AIDS, and exposure to cues to action as predictors of condom use. The decision to expand the study to assess condom use among early young adults (18 -24) as opposed to focusing exclusively on young adults (20 -24) was based on early young adults being less likely to be tested for HIV compared to other age groups (CDC, 2008). For the moderated mediation model, I drew on the health belief model (HBM) and tested whether 1) the relationship between sexual debut and condom use was mediated by number of lifetime sexual partnerships, and 2) the relationships between sexual debut and the mediator were moderated by perceived threat, and whether the relationships between the mediator and condom use was moderated by perceived threat and cues to action. The full model was not supported. The implication of this study is that more current research is needed to understand early young adults and their condom use, as they are a community that is most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and a key component in the fight against this disease.