Background: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the knowledge, attitudes, and practices about HIV/AIDS of high school students in Panama City, Panama and the impact of a peer-to-peer intervention project.
Methods: There were 659 participants in two public and two private schools, one of each got the intervention and the other serving as control. A questionnaire was used as a pretest and post-test to measure the effects of the intervention. The intervention consisted of 12 weekly sessions led by professionally trained peers using four different modalities: theater, group dynamics, videos, and discussions.
Results: The difference in the knowledge scores of the questionnaire resulted in an improvement in both the private (ES=0.63) and the public (ES=0.52) schools with the intervention. Another important finding was that the idea of abstinence as disease prevention for high school students rose from 7% to 60% (public school) and from 27% to 62% (private school) in response to an open-ended question.
Conclusions: There were other significant positive findings that demonstrate the efficacy of this peer-to-peer model educating high school students about lowering the risks of contracting HIV/AIDS. This model could also be used to prevent or mitigate other risky behaviors.