Without a cure in now its third decade, AIDS is a concern for both the medical and social science disciplines. Most at risk for a nationwide AIDS epidemic are developing countries, which often lack the necessary resources and knowledge to minimize the spread of the disease. There are an estimated 1500 HIV cases in Armenia, 81.5% of which occur in the 20-39 age group. Armenia’s current economic and political instability, increase in sexually transmitted infections (STI), prostitution, and injecting drug use, and the alarming incidence rates in neighboring countries amplify its risk for a national epidemic.

The goals of this study were to 1) determine the prevalence of sexual risk behaviors of students from five higher education institutes in Yerevan, Armenia (ages 17 to 21), 2) evaluate the HIV/AIDS knowledge base, and 3) test the feasibility of theoretical constructs when predicting risk behaviors within the cultural setting. Sexual risk behaviors, including early sexual initiation, high number of lifetime sexual partners, and frequency of casual sex were prevalent, particularly among male students. Although knowledge regarding HIV transmission through sexual activity and injecting drug use were adequate, myths regarding alternate means of virus transmission still prevailed.

Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA)-based psychosocial variables were used to examine sexual risk behaviors of students where intentions to engage in behaviors mediated the relationship between attitudes/perceived norms and behavior. Attitudes, subjective norms (of peers, parents, and other adults), and HIV/AIDS knowledge were used to predict intentions to engage in sexual activity, accounting for 63% of the variance. Furthermore, the hypothesis that gender and sexual history would systematically influence the relative predictive values of attitudes and subjective norms was supported. Namely, attitudes and peer norms were the strongest predictors of intentions for males and non-virgins, peer norms for virgins, and parent and peer norms for females. HIV/AIDS knowledge, however, was not a significant predictor of risk behaviors in any group except for virgin males, implying that knowledge-based educational programs alone are not an effective method for prevention. The results obtained from this study provide need and sample based information for school AIDS prevention programs in Armenia.

LLU Discipline





Graduate School

First Advisor

Kiti Freier

Second Advisor

Gary Hopkins

Third Advisor

Matt Riggs

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

HIV Infections -- ethnology; HIV Infections -- psychology; Armenia -- epidemiology; Risk Factors; Sexually Transmitted Diseases -- ethnology; Socioeconomic Factors; Culture; Disease Susceptibility; Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome -- transmission; Sex Behavior -- Armenia.



Page Count

x; 78

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives