Electronic Theses and Dissertations


Robin Hardin



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Idia Thurston

Committee Member

Kathryn Howell

Committee Member

Meghan McDevitt-Murphy

Committee Member

James Murphy


More Black women are living with HIV relative to women from all other racial backgrounds, with unprotected heterosexual sex being the primary mode of transmission. There are power dynamics due to gender, class, and race that may increase susceptibility to contracting HIV among Black women with low socioeconomic status. Exploring the sociocultural and contextual factors that contribute to these high rates of HIV among Black women is critical for prevention efforts. Guided by Black feminist theory, which examines the intersectional effects of multiple marginalized identities, we formulated the current study. This study explored how factors embedded in the intersection of race, gender, and class, influence HIV rates among Black women in Memphis, Tennessee who are experiencing poverty. This qualitative study employed grounded theory techniques to explore how the experiences of being a Black woman with a low socioeconomic status contributes to a diagnosis of HIV. Participants included 12 Black women living with HIV. They completed semi-structured, hour-long interviews exploring factors that contributed to their HIV diagnosis. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and grounded theory techniques were used to analyze the data (Rubin & Rubin, 2011). Analyses revealed six themes that emerged as risk factors from the interviews: adverse childhood experiences, substance use, sexual partner concurrency, intimate partner violence, poverty, and relationship imperative. Additionally, religion and finding meaning emerged as protective factors for those living with HIV. Results from the current study highlight how these factors are embedded in the intersection of race, gender, and class for Black women experiencing poverty. Findings provide a foundation for understanding how HIV risk among Black women experiencing poverty begin and is upheld. These results can help mental health professionals in addressing HIV risk within the therapeutic context when working with Black women experiencing poverty.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest