Preventing HIV Infection Among Adolescents: Evaluation of a School-Based Education Program
Background. This article reports the results of the impact of aschool-based HIV prevention intervention on students′ knowledge, attitudes, and behavior related to HIV infection. Methods. Seventeen schools within six Colorado school districts were assigned to either intervention or comparison conditions. Students in 10 schools received a 15-session, skills-based HIV prevention curriculum implemented by trained teachers. A total of 2,844 students completed at least one survey during the study period; surveys were matched using demographic questions, yielding a cohort of 979 students who had baseline and 6-month follow-up data. Results. Intervention students exhibited greater knowledge about HIV and greater intent to engage in safer sexual practices than the comparison students. Among sexually active students at the 6-month follow-up, intervention students reported fewer sexual partners within the past 2 months, greater frequency of using condoms, and greater intentions to engage in sex less frequently and to use a condom when having sex. Intervention students were also more likely to believe that teens their age who engage in HIV risk behaviors are vulnerable to infection. The intervention neither delayed the onset nor decreased the frequency of sexual intercourse and the frequency of alcohol and other drug use before sex by the 6-month follow-up assessment. Conclusions. The results suggest that skills-based risk reduction programs can have an effect on student behavior. Among sexually active students, evidence suggests that school-based interventions can reduce behavior associated with risk of HIV infection.