The current study sought "to test the long-term effects of a mass media intervention that used culturally and developmentally appropriate messages to enhance [HIV]-preventive beliefs and behavior of high-risk African-American adolescents."
Radio and TV messages were delivered for more than three years in Syracuse, N.Y., and Macon, Ga., which were randomly selected within each of two regionally matched city pairs. Columbia, S.C., and Providence, R.I., served as controls.
A total of 1,710 African-American adolescents ages 14-17 were recruited in the four cities over a 16-month timeframe. Participants completed audio computer-assisted self-interviews at recruitment and again at three, six, 12 and 18 months to assess the long-term effects of the media program. To identify the intervention's unique effects, youth who completed at least one follow-up and who did not test positive for any of the three STDs at recruitment or at six- or 12-month follow-up were retained for analysis (N=1,346).
Nearly all the adolescents in the trial were reached by the media intervention, producing a range of effects including improved normative condom-use negotiation expectancies and increased sex refusal self-efficacy. "Most importantly, older adolescents (ages 16-17 years) exposed to the media program showed a less risky age trajectory of unprotected sex than those in the nonmedia cities," the study results found.
"Culturally tailored mass media messages that are delivered consistently over time have the potential to reach a large audience of high-risk adolescents, to support changes in HIV-preventive beliefs, and to reduce HIV-associated risk behaviors among older youth," the researchers concluded.