Objective: To evaluate an HIV risk-reduction intervention among Namibian adolescents.
Methods: A randomized trial of a 14-session face-to-face intervention emphasizing abstinence and safer sexual practices conducted among 515 youths (median age 17 years and median grade 11) attending 10 secondary schools located in two districts in Namibia. Youths were randomly assigned to the intervention or control condition at the level of the individual. HIV risk behaviours, intentions and perceptions were assessed at baseline, immediately post-intervention and at 6 and 12 months post-intervention.
Results: Among all 515 youths who enrolled in the programme, rates of either abstinence or sex with a condom were not different between control and intervention youths at baseline or in the follow-up period. However, analyses conducted among the subset of youths who were sexually inexperienced at baseline (n = 255) revealed that a higher percentage of intervention youths (17%) than control youths (9%, P<0.05) remained sexually inexperienced one year later. Moreover, in the immediate post-intervention period, among baseline virgins who subsequently initiated sex, intervention youths were more likely than control youths to use a condom (18 versus 10%, P<0.05). Additional HIV-related risk behaviours (failure to discuss previous HIV risk exposure with one's sexual partner and alcohol use), intentions to use condoms, and perceptions of the ability to use condoms were positively affected by the intervention.
Conclusions: There is evidence that the 'My Future is My Choice' (MFMC) intervention is reducing HIV risk behaviours among sexually inexperienced participants aged 15-18. Related risk behaviours and perceptions are also positively impacted by the intervention.