Use of Western-based HIV risk-reduction interventions targeting adolescents in an African setting

J Adolesc Health. 1999 Jul;25(1):52-61. doi: 10.1016/s1054-139x(98)00120-7.


Purpose: To evaluate an intervention (based on one which had previously been successful in reducing adolescent human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) risk behaviors in the United States) among adolescents residing in Namibia, a country located in sub-Saharan Africa.

Methods: A randomized trial of a 14-session face-to-face intervention emphasizing abstinence and safer sex was conducted among 515 youth (median age 17 years; median grade 11) attending 10 secondary schools located in two districts in Namibia. Knowledge, attitudes, intentions, and HIV risk behaviors were assessed at baseline and in the immediate postintervention period.

Results: Knowledge increased significantly among intervention compared to control youth (88% vs. 82%; correct responses, p < .0001). At postintervention follow-up, more intervention than control youth believed that they could be intimate without having sex, could have a girlfriend or boyfriend for a long time without having sex, could explain the process of impregnation, knew how to use a condom, and could ask for condoms in a clinic. Fewer intervention than control youth believed that if a girl refused to have sex with her boyfriend it was permissible for him to strike her, and that condoms took away a boy's pleasure. More intervention than control youth anticipated using a condom when they did have sex, and fewer expected to drink alcohol. Finally, after intervention, there was a trend for increased condom use. There were significant gender-related differences at baseline, although intervention impact was generally equivalent.

Conclusions: These findings provide support for the judicious adaptation of successful Western HIV prevention programs in other cultural settings. A single intervention approach appears to be effective in short-term follow-up with both genders.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / prevention & control
  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developing Countries
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • Health Education / methods*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Namibia / epidemiology
  • Primary Prevention / organization & administration
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sex Education / methods