Personal Assessments of HIV Risk

Chapter 8 Discussion – Personal Assessments of HIV Risk

Chapter 8 was a little overwhelming. There were so many theoretical descriptions of how people make decisions about their choice of sex partners, and other risky behaviors. Does anyone actually think like this? The truth is, that most of us make potentially life altering decisions in the blink of an eye. Yet behind those split-second decisions, there is an evolutionary history, dating back to early man. Intuition, as we might call it, is probably an unconscious series of decisions made based on associations with people and lifetime experiences.  All of these flashes of memory are confounded in the present with fear, lust, emotion and other biases, well before logical thinking comes into the picture.

The best way to understand these concepts is probably not to read about them in a textbook, but to discuss them, bringing to mind our own experiences, and those of people whom we have known. The task for this discussion will be to give an example of how someone you have known or read about has used one of these decision-making models to make a life-altering decision in their own life, and how it has affected them. Remember, we should be focusing our discussion on the situation, not the person involved, so don’t identify any person by name.

If you can’t think of a real-life situation to use as an example, use a character from a well known book or movie, or explain a theoretical situation that might happen in real life. Or write something more general about one of these topics.



a. Give an example of how optimistic bias has influenced the attitude of a young person about their risk of becoming infected with HIV.

b. Explain how the representative heuristic has led to an irrational fear in yourself, or someone you have known, that HIV can be transmitted by casual contact.

As usual, upload your post of 150-200 words.

Chapter 9 Discussion – Principles of Health Behavior Change

Read about the 7 principles of health behavior change in Chapter 9 p.160-166. These are the factors that need to be considered when developing programs to educate the public about behavioral change in promoting safe sex.

1. The Cognitive Principle

2. The Emotional Principle

3. The Behavioral Principle

4. The Interpersonal Principle

5. The Social Ecological Principle

6. The Structural Principle

7. The Scientific Principle

For the discussion this week, we will be practicing working with the principles above. Each of you should choose one of these principles. Explain the principle and how you would incorporate it when developing an AIDS prevention program. You can make up a scenario for a hypothetical target demographic, use an example or keep it general. You don’t need to develop an extensive educational program. You only need to develop the one aspect of a program that employs the principle that you are discussing.

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