Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Work

Document Type



HIV/AIDS has become an epidemic in Black communities in the Deep South, which poses a major public health crisis. Unfortunately, the lack of attention from health officials has resulted in African Americans experiencing the greatest burden of the disease as compared to any other racial/ethnic group. Thus, this cross-sectional, correlational study examined predictors of HIV transmission with an emphasis on the course of the disease among African Americans in the Deep South region of the United States given the legacy of slavery, historical racism, and plight of African Americans in this geographical area. The institution of slavery was not isolated to southern states, but it was aggressively endorsed and had a stronger presence in the Deep South. This dark era in the nation’s history resulted social determinants that contribute to health inequalities that perpetuate disparities in health conditions that impact African Americans such as, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and HIV. Social determinant of health is defined as circumstances in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age, which is formed by the distribution of power, wealth, and resources at multiple levels. The presented study employs a quantitative analysis of secondary social and economic data from 3,109 counties and county equivalents of the 48 contiguous United States that serve as social determinants of health that influence the trend of HIV/AIDS in Black communities. The current study also examined interrelationships among major variables of interest and identified empirically relevant correlates of the dependent variable. Multiple regression analysis yielded a set of predictors (sex, race, marital status, educational attainment, employment status, below poverty-level, access to health care system, housing tenure, and STD rates) that explained 61% of the variance in HIV rates. To examine whether the effect of African Americans on HIV rates differ in the Deep South as compared to other regions, carrying forward the legacy of historic racism, an interaction term was created. Results from the data analysis show no significant interaction between race and region. The study concludes with implications for future research into factors that contribute to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Deep South such as stigma, conspiracy theories, and public health policies.



Committee Chair

Chaney, Cassandra



Included in

Social Work Commons