Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


The specter of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) has become increasingly prevalent since it first entered public awareness in 1982. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that approximately 1 million people in the United States of America (USA) are living with HIV/ AIDS. More alarming is the fact that approximately 250,000 people remain unaware of their seropositivity status, therefore putting themselves and others at risk. Ignorance concerning HIV status is due largely to two factors: either failure to take an HIV test in the first place, or, a failure to retrieve results after testing. Despite the distinct possibility that anxiety plays a role in decisions concerning HIV testing an extensive literature review yielded no study that specifically examined the association between anxiety and HIV testing behavior. Thus, the purpose of the study was to determine the influence of anxiety, both general and specific, on prospective HIV testing behavior. The design of the study was correlational, examining how a group of independent variables (namely, various types of anxiety) impact two separate dependent variables (likelihood of being tested HIV and likelihood of returning for results of the HIV test results). Three hundred and forty seven participants were administered measures assessing anxiety, both at the broad or "global" level and at the narrower level of context-specific or domain-relevant anxiety. Each participant completed the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), Self-Rated Anxiety Scale (SAS), Subscales of the Medical Anxiety Scale (MAS), Death Anxiety Scale (DAS), and the Multidimensional AIDS Anxiety Questionnaire (MAAQ). A stepwise multiple regression data analytic strategy was used to examine the data. Analyses suggested that AIDS-Specific Anxiety accounted for a significant amount of variance in the independent variable of the Likelihood of Receiving HIV Testing and that Hospital and X-Ray Anxiety, respectively, accounted for a significant amount of variance in the independent variable of Likelihood of Returning to Receive the Results of HIV Testing; however, variance attributed to each of the dependent variables that remained after stepwise regression, was low. Once the researchers controlled for extraneous variables such as the relevant demographic variables of gender, ethnicity, previous HIV testing history, past sexual history, and relationship status, the variables that had been retained in both the equations - AIDS-Specific Anxiety and Hospital and X-Ray Anxiety, respectively - no longer accounted for a significant amount of variance and none of the variables assessed in the study were retained in the models examining the influence of anxiety on Likelihood to Receive HIV Testing and Likelihood of Returning for HIV Testing Results. Although the current study did not yield the anticipated results, the findings contribute to research concerning the influence of personality variable on disease status. The findings presented here may present researchers with a starting point for further empirical endeavors. Considering the limitations of the study and applying the suggestions derived from frankly addressing those limitations, future research may indeed reveal a significant impact of anxiety on HIV testing behavior.



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