STI Awareness Program Reduces Reinfection Rate for Black, Mexican-American Teenage Girls, Study Finds
The Sexual Awareness for Everyone program, which seeks to raise sexually transmitted infection awareness and prevent risky sexual behavior in women, has shown success in reducing STI reinfection rates in a group of high-risk minority teenage girls, according to a study published in the June issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reuters Health reports.
For the study, conducted by Andrea Ries Thurman of the University of Texas Health Sciences Center-San Antonio and colleagues, a group of 14- to 18-year-old black and Mexican-American teenage girls participated in the SAFE program, which offered comprehensive STI counseling and education. The girls attended small group meetings on STI prevention that included role-playing, interactive video, written material and group discussion that addressed preventive strategies, such as abstinence and monogamy. The group discussions also stressed the importance of adherence to STI medication regimens.
After completing the program, the girls in the SAFE group were less likely to engage in risky sexual behavior and had a lower incidence of recurrent gonorrhea and chlamydia in the first six months and over time, compared with girls in a control group, who only received 15 minutes of individual counseling. The cumulative reinfection rate was about 24% in the SAFE group, compared with 40% among teens in the control group.
The program also had the same results in women ages 19 and older, according to Reuters Health. The reinfection rate was 12% among the older women in the SAFE program compared with 18% in the control group. The teenagers had a higher STI reinfection rate than the adults at 33.1%, compared with 14.4% respectively. Researchers noted that teens had higher STI rates "because the behavior that was most highly and consistently associated with recurrent infection in teens -- unprotected sex with untreated partners -- was not sufficiently modified by the SAFE intervention."
Researchers concluded that STI prevention interventions for teenagers should "emphasize skills to help teens ensure their partners are treated or to otherwise refuse intercourse" (Reuters Health, 6/2).
An abstract of the study is available online.