Date of Award

May 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Health

First Advisor

Lance Weinhardt

Committee Members

Amy Harley, Alice Yan, Young Cho, Lucy Mkandawire-Valhmu


African American Women's health, Sexual and reproductive health, Sexually transmitted diseases, Sexually transmitted infections, Women's health


Sexually transmitted diseases remain a notable public health problem in the United States. It is estimated that 1 in 5 people have a sexually transmitted disease in the country. African Americans are disproportionately affected. The situation locally in Milwaukee, Wisconsin mirrors this national trend. African American women are especially vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases. This situation is further complicated by the fact that some of the more common sexually transmitted diseases may be present without symptoms. It is imperative that women seek testing to enable them to identify and effectively combat sexually transmitted diseases. As such, there is need to explore and understand some of the contextual factors that influence African American women’s decision to seek testing for sexually transmitted diseases in Milwaukee. The Integrated Behavioral Model was used as a framework to guide this study. The study involved conducting a series of twenty-two semi-structured interviews that yielded qualitative data related to attitude, norms, personal agency, and environmental factors linked to testing for sexually transmitted diseases among a community based sample of African American women. Thematic analysis was used to evaluate the interview transcripts to develop an understanding of the importance of these factors to women as they engage in the preventive health behavior of testing for sexually transmitted diseases. Through this study, seven main themes were identified as important factors to women’s decision to test for STDs. The themes include personal factors, racial issues, physician-related factors, testing issues, transportation, personal network, and community resources. The findings of this study help to illuminate some of the challenges African American women face in seeking STD testing. These factors can be targeted for future STD health promotion interventions in urban metropolitan areas.

Included in

Public Health Commons