2018 NASSS Annual Conference
Sport Soundtrack: Sport, Music, & Culture

Christina Martin

Troy University
Are Intercollegiate Athletics Departments Encouraging Anonymous HIV Testing for Student-Athletes?

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a universal health issue.  Approximately 36.7 million people worldwide are living with HIV/AIDS with the age group most affected being individuals 13-29 years old (HIV.gov). Many individuals living with HIV/AIDS face social stigma, even with the advances in knowledge surrounding the disease. However, this stigma may be heightened for athletes who may be battling the disease or the possibility of the disease. The NCAA indicates that “experts have concurred that the risk of transmission on the athletics field is minimal” (p. 78), and that only individuals whom the athlete “chooses to confide in have a right to know about this aspect of the student-athlete’s medical history” (p. 79). With the low risk of transmission, the NCAA has not mandated testing of athletes; although this is agreeable with nearly all experts, this study seeks to understand if athletes feel encouraged by their athletics departments to have HIV testing. For athletes, the magnified social risk factors and particularly the fear of isolation within a sport context may prevent an athlete from seeking testing. Yet, in caring for the entire student-athlete, athletics departments may want to consider creating a culture of encouragement of HIV testing.