May 26, 2005
The researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial, with 3-, 6- and 12-month follow-ups, to determine the efficacy of a skill-based HIV/STD risk-reduction intervention in reducing self-reported unprotected sexual intercourse among African-American and Latino adolescent girls. Study participants were 682 sexually experienced African-American and Latino adolescents girls recruited from the adolescent medicine clinic of a children's hospital serving a low-income inner-city community. The mean age of the girls was 15.5 years; 88.6 percent of participants were retained at the 12-month follow-up.
Participants received one of three 250-minute interventions based on cognitive-behavioral theories and elicitation research. An information-based HIV/STD intervention provided necessary information on safer sex practices; a skill-based HIV/STD intervention provided information and taught skills necessary to practice safer sex; and a health-promotion control intervention dealt with health issues unrelated to sexual behavior.
The primary outcome measure was self-reported frequency of unprotected sexual intercourse. Secondary outcomes included the frequency of sexual intercourse while intoxicated; the number of sexual partners; biologically confirmed STDs; and theoretical mediator variables including the intention to use condoms, beliefs about using condoms and condom-use knowledge.
Investigators found no statistically significant differences between the information intervention and the health control intervention. Skills-intervention participants reported less unprotected sex at the 12-month follow-up than information-intervention participants, or health control-intervention participants. At the 12-month follow-up, skills-intervention participants reported fewer sexual partners (P = .04) compared to health-intervention participants and were less likely to test positive for STDs than health control-intervention participants (P = .05). The researchers found no differences in the frequency of unprotected sex, the number of partners, or the rate of STDs at the 3- or 6-month follow-up between skill-intervention participants and information-intervention or health control-intervention participants.
"Skill-based HIV/STD interventions can reduce sexual risk behaviors and STD rate among African American and Latino adolescent girls in clinic settings," the authors concluded.