Successful Anti-HIV Program Targets Hispanic Teens

Pilot project focused on abstinence, condom use

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TUESDAY, Aug. 8, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- A tailored HIV-prevention program that emphasized both abstinence and condom use has proven effective for Hispanic youth in Philadelphia, researchers say.

Hispanic youth in the Unites States are disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS. For example, the incidence of AIDS was more than three times higher among Hispanics than among non-Hispanic white teens and adults in 2001, according to researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Reported in the August issue of the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, the study included 553 Hispanic teens, averaging about 15 years of age. All of the teens were randomly assigned to complete one of two eight-hour programs. One program focused exclusively on HIV prevention and the other was a general health-promotion course. Both programs were offered in Spanish and English and featured small group discussions, interactive and skill-building activities, and videos.

The HIV prevention program incorporated elements of Hispanic culture -- such as the importance of family -- into its instruction about sexual health.

Participants in both groups were interviewed before and immediately after completing the programs, and again three, six and 12 months later.

At the end of the study, teens who took part in the HIV intervention group were significantly less likely to report having sex at all in the previous three months. They were also less likely to have multiple partners, more likely to say they used condoms consistently, and reported fewer days of unprotected sex.

Those who took part in the Spanish HIV-prevention program were five times more likely than those in the Spanish health-promotion program to have used a condom the last time they had intercourse and also reported a greater proportion of protected vs. unprotected sex.

"Results of this study demonstrate the efficacy of a safer sex intervention in decreasing sexual intercourse and increasing condom use," the study authors concluded. "It is an important effort in providing practitioners an evidence base from which to guide and support adolescents in sexual decision making. Much more research is needed with Latino adolescents to address the health disparity in HIV and AIDS."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about HIV/AIDS among Hispanics.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Aug. 7, 2006

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