Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Health Psychology

First Advisor

Faye Z. Belgrave


African Americans have been disproportionately affected by HIV since the beginning of the epidemic and the disparities have worsened over time (CDC, 2013a). African Americans comprise about 12% of the U.S. population but represented about 44% of all new HIV infections in 2010 (CDC, 2014a). Young people (age 13–24) accounted for 26% of all new HIV infections in 2010, despite persons in this age range comprising just 17% of the population (CDC, 2014c). Young African Americans (age 13-24) are affected in particular. In 2010, they comprised 57% of infections in this age range (CDC, 2014c). Substance use is a major factor in the sexual risk taking of young people. Substance use has been associated with risky behaviors such as unprotected sex and having multiple partners, which may put one at risk for contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2002). This may help to explain why STIs are more prevalent among 18 to 24 year olds than any other age group. Prevalence estimates suggest that young people (age 15–24) acquire half of all new STIs (Satterwhite et al., 2008).

Program evaluation is a social science activity that entails “collecting, analyzing, interpreting, and communicating information about the workings and effectiveness of social programs” (p. 2) (Rossi, Lipsey, & Freeman, 2004). This dissertation is an evaluation of the Raise 5 Project, which aimed to provide HIV and substance abuse prevention services to the African American students attending Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). The project utilized four strategies: 1) evidence based interventions, 2) peer education and awareness, 3) HIV testing and counseling, and 4) a social marketing campaign. Two forms of evaluation, process and outcome, were utilized to assess the Raise 5 Project. Process evaluation assesses service utilization (i.e., program engagement) and program organization. This process evaluation sought to determine if the project’s four strategies operated as intended. Outcome evaluation assesses the intended outcomes of a program. This outcome evaluation examined if participants in the project’s evidence based interventions had reduced substance use and risky sexual behaviors.


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