Background: African-American and Hispanic women are disproportionately affected by sexually transmitted diseases, including the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). In the effort to reduce infection rates, it is important to create and evaluate behavioral interventions that are specific to the target populations.
Methods: We enrolled women with nonviral sexually transmitted diseases in a randomized trial of a sex- and culture-specific behavioral intervention. The intervention consisted of three small-group sessions of three to four hours each designed to help women recognize personal susceptibility, commit to changing their behavior, and acquire necessary skills. The control group received standard counseling about sexually transmitted diseases. The design of the intervention was based on the AIDS Risk Reduction Model and ethnographic data on the study populations. Participants in both groups underwent screening, counseling, and an interview before randomization and at the 6- and 12-month follow-up visits. The principal outcome variable was subsequent chlamydial or gonorrheal infection, which was evaluated on an intention-to-treat basis by logistic-regression analysis.
Results: A total of 424 Mexican-Americans and 193 African-American women were enrolled; 313 were assigned to the intervention group and 304 to the control group. The rate of participation in the intervention was 90 percent. The rates of retention in the sample were 82 and 89 percent at the 6- and 12-month visits, respectively. Rates of subsequent infection were significantly lower in the intervention group than in the control group during the first 6 months (11.3 vs. 17.2 percent, P=0.05), during the second 6 months (9.1 vs. 17.7 percent, P=0.008), and over the entire 12-month study period (16.8 vs. 26.9 percent, P=0.004).
Conclusions: A risk-reduction intervention consisting of three small-group sessions significantly decreased the rates of chlamydial and gonorrheal infection among Mexican-American and African-American women at high risk for sexually transmitted disease.