Since the beginning of the semester we have made a great deal of progress with our research. In January I completed a literature review of some of the previously published research on the topic of HIV/AIDS studies on a college campus. I was very interested to learn that there was not much research done at an urban university such as Pace! We found that overwhelmingly, previous research has shown that while college students are fairly knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS, and have little concern with contracting the virus, they do not take the appropriate safe sex precautions to protect against transmission. Moreover, college students appear to be about as knowledgeable on HIV/AIDS as the average American, and slightly more knowledgeable than teenagers. Students have a basic understanding of the treatments for HIV and how HIV can lead to AIDS. Much of the current gaps in knowledge surround HIV testing and transmission. Many students, based on their belief that they are unable to contract HIV, have never been tested.
Based on the findings in the literature review we created a survey that touches upon 4 different topics: Knowledge of HIV/AIDS, HIV/AIDS Stigma, Testing Behavior, and Sexual Practice. These four categories will give us a comprehensive understanding of the current climate surrounding HIV/AIDS at Pace. Once the survey was completed we sent it for IRB approval and were happy to receive approval at the end of February! Now we are sending out the survey to as many Pace students as we can. At this time we have approximately 170 responses and we will be accepting responses for the rest of the month!
During the course of our research we have experienced an abundance of successes but also a few challenges. Our main challenge thus far was creating the survey and obtaining IRB approval. We went through many iterations of the survey before our final draft. We wanted to make the questions clear and relevant, while also protecting the anonymity of the students due to the sensitive nature of the questions. Once we crafted the survey and sent it to the IRB they had a few notes/edits for us before it was approved! I think one of our biggest success is simply getting this survey off the ground since research like this has not been done before at Pace!
Based on the survey responses so far I have learned that not very many Pace students are familiar with PeP and PrEP. These are two essential preventative measures in combating HIV and it is important that students are aware of them and where they can access them. I also thought it was interesting that a large portion of respondents did not know that HIV can become “undetectable” with the correct treatment and time.
I am very excited to obtain more responses and dive deeper into how we can use this information to help the community at Pace!