In their own voices: rural African-American youth speak out about community-based HIV prevention interventions

Prog Community Health Partnersh. 2009 Winter;3(4):275-6. doi: 10.1353/cpr.0.0099.


Background: The HIV epidemic is a major public health problem in the United States, particularly among rural African American adolescents and young adults.

Objectives: We sought to explore young, rural African American’s perspectives about key programmatic components to consider when designing youth-targeted, community-based HIV prevention interventions.

Methods: We report data from four focus groups with adolescents and young adults aged 16 to 24 (n = 38) conducted as part of a community-based participatory research (CBPR) project designed to develop multilevel HIV risk reduction interventions in two rural North Carolina communities with high HIV rates. Analysis was performed by academic and community partners using a modified grounded theory approach to content analysis.

Results: Interventions should target preadolescents and early adolescents rather than older adolescents and young adults in an effort to “catch them while they’re young.” Intervention developers should obtain input from local young people regarding critical programmatic components, such as whom to employ as study recruiters and intervention leaders; intervention format and delivery options, acceptable recruitment and intervention locations, and incentive structures. Participants believe selecting community collaborators representing varied community sectors is critical. Important barriers to address included limited transportation, discomfort communicating about sexual issues, lack of community interest in HIV prevention, and unwillingness to acknowledge and address sexual activity among adolescents.

Conclusion: When designing HIV/AIDS prevention interventions, targeting young people, it is important to form academic–community partnerships that ensure young people’s perspectives are integral to the intervention development process.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data*
  • Community Health Services / organization & administration*
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • Health Education
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Promotion
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Humans
  • Program Development / methods*
  • Rural Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Social Marketing
  • United States