Principal investigator Dianne Morrison-Beedy, dean of the University of South Florida College of Nursing in Tampa, Fla., said the intervention provided HIV information, increased the girls' readiness to reduce risky behaviors, modeled and allowed girls to practice interpersonal and self-management skills facilitating sexual risk reduction, and taught condom use.
The intervention addressed how to persuade a partner to use a condom, how to obtain condoms and how fertility could be jeopardized by risky sexual behavior. The structure and content of the intervention included developmentally appropriate strategies such as games, interactive group activities and skits, the study said.
The intervention was targeted for girls, who are at a greater risk for sexually transmitted infections than boys, Morrison-Beedy said.
The researchers recruited 738 girls, ages 15-19, from several venues, including youth development centers, adolescent services and school-based centers, to participate in the randomized controlled trial.
The participants initially attended four weekly 2-hour sessions, then two 90-minute booster sessions three and six months after the initial program. A non-intervention control group following the same schedule and process received information on general health promotion topics such as nutrition, breast health and anger management.
The study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, demonstrated significant increases in sexual abstinence, and decreases in unprotected sex and pregnancy rates over the one-year study period.