Main Article Content
Using the Health Belief Model as a theoretical starting point, the present study extends previous research on health protective behavior by exploring the relationship among knowledge, self-esteem and students’ proclivity to engage in risky sexual behavior. To test the Model, data were analyzed from a sample of undergraduate students at a large land-grant university. Results indicate that students with high levels of self-esteem, as well as high levels of knowledge of HIV/AIDS, report engaging in safer behavioral practices, for the non- conventional sexual behaviors, more so than those with low and moderate levels of self-esteem. With respect to those more conventional sexual behavioral practices, such as unprotected vaginal/penile intercourse and unprotected sex with multiple sex partners, those with high self-esteem surprisingly reported more risky sexual behaviors than those with low and moderate self-esteem. These results indicate that both self-esteem and knowledge operate differently depending on the type of sexual behavior involved – conventional or nonconventional. Such differences need to be taken into account when using the Health Belief Model in evaluating HIV/AIDS protective behavior among US college students.