A school-based, six-session program targeting sexual risk behaviors has proven effective in reducing rates of self-reported unprotected sex and sex with multiple partners among South African sixth-graders, according to a report in the October issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
The study was lead by John B. Jemmott III, PhD, professor of Communication in Psychiatry and the Kenneth B. Clark Professor of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine and Annenberg School for Communication and Loretta S. Jemmott, PhD, RN, the van Amerigen professor of Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, and done in collaboration with colleagues at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the University of Fort Hare in South Africa, among others.
"This study provides the first evidence that a research-based, audience appropriate intervention can reduce sexual risk behaviors, particularly unprotected vaginal intercourse, vaginal intercourse and multiple partners, among young South African adolescents in the earliest stages of their sexual lives,” said Dr. John Jemmott. "Future research with more sexually experienced adolescents will have to explore whether such interventions can have an effect on condom use and STDs, including HIV.”
Researchers tested a school-based prevention program at 18 primary schools in Eastern Cape Providence, South Africa. Based on previous research, they conducted a cluster-randomized, controlled study and two six-session behavior-change interventions.
Nine schools were randomly assigned to participate in the HIV/STD intervention, which was designed to teach students how to avoid HIV and other STDs, enhance beliefs supporting abstinence and condom use, and increase the skills and self-confidence needed to choose less risky behaviors. The health-promotion intervention focused on physical activity, diet, and other behaviors linked to non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The 1,057 participating children (average age 12.4) were asked about sexual behaviors before and three, six and 12 months after the intervention.
Averaged over the three follow-ups, a significantly smaller percentage of students in the HIV/STD risk reduction group than the health promotion group reported having unprotected vaginal intercourse (2.2 percent vs. 4.2 percent), having vaginal intercourse at all (4.8 percent vs. 7.2 percent) or having multiple sexual partners (1.8 percent vs. 3.2 percent).
For more information, see the JAMA/Archives press release at http://pubs.ama-assn.org/media/2010a/1004.dtl#4.