April 1996

A Randomized, Controlled Effectiveness Trial of an AIDS Prevention Program for Low-Income African-American Youths

Author Affiliations

From the Division of General Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland Medical School (Drs Stanton, Li, Ricardo, and Feigelman and Mss Galbraith and Kaljee) and Center for Minority Health Research, University of Maryland (Drs Stanton, Li, and Ricardo and Ms Kaljee), Baltimore.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1996;150(4):363-372. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1996.02170290029004

Background:  Some interventions to reduce the risk of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) that target youths have resulted in short-term increases in self-reported condom use. However, long-term intervention effects have not been assessed.

Study Question:  Can a theoretically and culturally based, AIDS-risk reduction intervention delivered to naturally formed peer groups increase self-reported condom use among African-American early adolescents at 6 and 12 months of follow-up?

Methods:  A randomized, controlled trial of a community-based intervention delivered in eight weekly sessions involved 76 naturally formed peer groups consisting of 383 (206 intervention and 177 control) African-American youths 9 to 15 years of age. A theory-based, culturally and developmentally tailored instrument that assessed perceptions, intentions, and self-reported sexual behaviors was administered to all subjects at baseline (preintervention) and 6 and 12 months later.

Results:  At baseline, 36% of youths were sexually experienced, and by 12 months of follow-up, 49% were sexually experienced. Self-reported condom use rates were significantly higher among intervention than control youths (85% vs 61%; P<.05) at the 6-month follow-up. However, by 12 months, rates were no longer significantly higher among intervention youths. The intervention impact at 6 months was especially strong among boys (85% vs 57%; P<.05) and among early teens (13 to 15 years old) (95% vs 60%; P<.01). Self-reported condom use intention was also increased among intervention youths at 6 months but not at 12 months. Some perceptions were positively affected at 6 months, but the change did not persist at 12 months.

Conclusions:  High rates of sexual intercourse underscore the urgent need for effective AIDS-risk reduction interventions that target low-income urban, African-American preteens and early teens. A developmentally and culturally tailored intervention based on social-cognitive theory and delivered to naturally formed peer groups recruited from community settings can increase self-reported condom use. The strong short-term improvements in behaviors and intentions followed by some relapse over longer periods argue for a strengthened program and research focus on sustainability.(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1996;150:363-372)