Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate phase I of a theoretically informed media campaign designed by youth in Zambia to encourage their peers to adopt risk-reduction practices to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The Helping Each other Act Responsibly Together (HEART) campaign conveys information for young people ages 13 to 19 years about sexually transmitted infections, HIV, and acquired immune deficiency syndrome transmission and prevention, and promotes abstinence, a return to abstinence, or consistent condom use as viable risk-reduction practices.
Methods: Separate sample baseline and follow-up designs were used to evaluate phase I of the HEART campaign among adolescents aged 13 to 19 years. The 1999 baseline survey had a sample of 368 male and 533 female adolescents; the 2000 follow-up survey comprised 496 male and 660 female adolescents.
Results: Controlling for age, sex, educational attainment, and urban or rural residence, logistic regression analyses demonstrated that, compared with nonviewers, campaign viewers were 1.61 times more likely to report primary or secondary abstinence and 2.38 times more likely to have ever used a condom. The odds ratio of condom use during last sex was 2.1 for respondents who recalled at least 3 television spot advertisements compared with other respondents.
Conclusions: The positive correlations between HEART campaign viewership and HIV risk-reduction practices demonstrate that mediated messages can influence adolescents. The HEART campaign is among a range of programs in Zambia designed to enable young people to protect their reproductive health. Future research should capture the independent as well as the synergistic effects of multiple campaigns and interventions.