This dissertation is a response to the numerous studies that report on the relationship between education and health and that have called for an increased understanding of how education impacts thinking, reasoning, and problem solving and how these in turn impact health. This dissertation focuses on understanding what schooling uniquely does to influence risk taking and preventative strategies in the context of heterosexual transmission of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. This dissertation presents the results of three empirical studies that examine different aspects of the role of schooling on the HIV and AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa. The research uses Demographic Health Surveys from 11 SSA countries with data collected in 4 relatively homogenous and remote villages in the Eastern region of Ghana on cognitive and decision-making abilities. The empirical studies yield data to test the effect of schooling on HIV infection, engagement in sexual behavior, mathematic ability, cognitive skills, and decision-making capacities related to the HIV and AIDS pandemic. This study presents the results of both logistic regression and structural equation modeling that examines hypotheses that link schooling with basic cognitive skill enhancement and how these relate to risk assessment and decision-making. This line of inquiry is a new approach to consider how schooling has such a wide impact on health behavior, a major social issue facing the future of numerous societies. This dissertation presents findings that extend existing lines of research of health and decision-making into a very different and important population (the non-schooled and low-schooled) in SSA. This dissertation also introduces the effect of schooling to enhance cognitive skills in the health behavior and decision-making paradigms. This analysis is a step in understanding how attending school protects an individual from HIV infection and engagement in protective behavior above and beyond the acquisition of facts and attitudes.