Latino Adolescents Receiving Culturally Adapted HIV Prevention Course Less Likely To Have Sex, More Likely To Use Condoms, Study Says
Latino adolescents who are given a culturally specific HIV prevention and sex education course are less likely to have intercourse and more likely to use condoms than Latinos who do not receive the course, according to a study published in the August 2006 issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, CQ HealthBeat reports (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 8/8). Antonia Villarruel, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Nursing, and colleagues enrolled 249 Latinos and 304 Latinas ages 13 to 18 who were enrolled in northeast Philadelphia schools (Villarruel et al., Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, August 2006). More than 85% of the participants in the study -- which was funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research -- were Puerto Rican, nearly 50% were not born in the mainland U.S., and more than 40% reported having sexual intercourse at least once (NIH release, 8/7).
According to CQ HealthBeat, some of the participants were enrolled in a culturally specific program that taught about general health -- including diet improvement; the importance of exercise; and avoiding tobacco, alcohol and drugs -- but did not talk about sex. The other group received a Latino-tailored program with messages that abstinence was the only infallible means of preventing HIV transmission and that for those who have sex should use condoms. The program also discussed the positive and negative characteristics of the "machismo associated with Hispanic culture," CQ HealthBeat reports. It emphasized that adolescent boys could show strength by protecting themselves and their families from HIV by abstaining from sex or using condoms and told girls that the safeguards provided from abstinence or condoms would protect their families, according to CQ HealthBeat. Both programs included six, 50-minute classes on consecutive Saturdays to small groups of both sexes in English and Spanish, and researchers followed students for one year. The study finds that students who received the sex education instruction were 34% less likely to report having sex in the previous three months, 47% less likely to report multiple sex partners and significantly more likely to report condom use if they had sex than students in the other group (CQ HealthBeat, 8/8). According to NIH, HIV incidence was three times higher for Latinos in 2001 than incidence for non-Latino whites (NIH release, 8/7).